Race report: Flint Hills 50

Flint Hills 50

50-mile #4

April 21, 2018

Place: 13/13

Time: 11:46:31

race logo

Race logo

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.

family

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.

shirt

My shirt and bib.

Stopped to pick up a pretty traditional supper for me the night before a race.

Pizza Hut

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.

pre race gear

Gear set up.

Oh, and I also snuck in some FaceTime with the wife and boy.

Bryant face time

Oh, hey Bryant.

On to race day…

pre race selfie

Pre-race selfie.

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

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.

2 miles in

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.

William Layton Photography

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.

 

Layton 2

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.

Nope.

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:

do not pass

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.

buckle

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?

Qdoba

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.

Orange Mud

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.

Bryant + Kami post race

Love them.

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.

cards from Bryant

How cool is that?

20172018

Mile 1-10: 11:29/mile10:40/mile

Mile 11-20: 13:25/mile | 11:59/mile

Mile 21-30: 14:57/mile15:30/mile

Mile 31-40: 15:43/mile16:43/mile

Mile 41-50: 15:45/mile15:45/mile

  • 7,240 calories burned
  • 8th ultra finish
  • 6th longest run

Next up: Heartland 50 — May 5, 2018 

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Race report: Ele-fun Run 5K

Ele-fun Run 5K

5K #40

August 5, 2017

Place: 1/82

Time: 21:31

This whole marathon attempt in a few weeks may very well not go as hoped. I haven’t lost the weight I wanted to lose, I haven’t done the speed work I should’ve done and the weather, as always, is unpredictable.

But my summer of small, mostly low-key, fun races has allowed me to keep my sanity through it all and have kept me from “over-training,” as I’ve done in the past. My legs have stayed fresh.

I swapped my 22-mile run from Saturday to Thursday to make room for this fun little inaugural 5K at the Topeka Zoo.

logo

Race logo.

With all-morning rain in the forecast and it being a first-year event, I didn’t expect much of a turnout. It was better than expected. The guy running the thing said 93 registered and 82 showed up to run or walk.

bib

Bib ready to go. That turquoise dot (indicating 19+ age category) would be completely washed away by the end of the race.

Sure enough, it rained throughout the race. Nothing torrential, but enough to form several puddles to run through. The course was four loops around the zoo, so I was able to get some cheers all along the way, which was nice.

start

Blurry, rainy start line shot, courtesy of Kami.

I jumped out to an early lead and unlike most races, when I start super fast and can’t hold it, I was able to maintain a mostly steady pace and led throughout the race.

By early on in the third loop, the guys in second and third were out of sight when I turned around to look behind me. I figured as long as I kept it steady-ish, I could hold on for the win — and I did.

win

Overall winner with a time of 21:31.

I crossed the finish line in 21:31 — a good 2 minutes and 59 seconds slower than my PR. Buuuuut, it was good enough for the win and faster than I expected to be — especially two days after running 22-plus miles. So I was happy with it.

award

Fun little awards ceremony after the race.

This was my 11th overall victory (2 10K, 7 5K, 1 4K, 1 1-mile) and my 40th 5K. I don’t run many of those any more these days and never truly try to race them, but when I have a chance to compete, I take it.

Update: I’ve recently added the virtual races I’ve done to the count of my race totals, making this actually my 42nd 5K. 

This race came with an entrance to the zoo, but in the rain, we didn’t get to see much — specifically, no elephants. Bummer. But we did get to see the giraffes (indoors) and walked around the rainforest exhibit for a bit.

I love the zoo and had a lot of fun with this event — and not just because I happened to win the race. But, yeah, that wasn’t a bad bonus.

swag

Bib, medal, drawstring bag, water bottle and medal.

The consensus was that they planned to do this event again next year. I hope so. I would return to do it again.

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…