Monday, February 15, 2010

PsycoWyco Weekend - Christine Crawford's Race Report

Had a great time getting dirty in KS this weekend.  Flew in to KS on Friday to surprise some of my friends from IL (the Buffalo running group).  

The trail was excellent.  Not as difficult as it is billed to be, but definitely a challenge when it's muddy.  I had so much fun laughing at how muddy and silly we all looked as we ran around the park.  The volunteers were terrific.  Most of the volunteers were trail runners and had a hand in designing the course.  They cheered for yours truly, the only female cheese head in the crowd.  There were, however, only 14 females in the whole pack!  

Dogs were welcome on the course (part of the course was laid out by the RD's dog, Fester, as he wandered off - ta da - new leg to the course!) and I had one nipping at my heels and breathing down my back for 20 miles, literally.  I included her picture.  

I ran all of it with my good friend Don.  I've been running ultras with him for 10 years.  You would really enjoy the course and the RD, Ben.  I've included a few photos.  

The trail resembled bits of Glacial (except muddy), Ice Age (except muddy), the local horse trails (except, well you get it), double chubb and Clinton lake in IL.  It was a blast.

Hey, my first ultra since June!  Kick ass.

Official Results:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Rocky Raccoon Redux:

In my previous race report, I failed to mention that the LPTR’s did feature two finishers in Huntsville – Beth Simpson-Hall and Casey Lopez!  Beth knocked out her eighth Rocky Raccoon in 26:27:25 with Casey just a couple of minutes behind in 26:29:24. 

That was Beth’s twenty-fourth 100 mile race completed – she goes for an astounding twenty-fifth at Massanutten this year!   Wow!! 

Great job guys!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dueling Race Reports: Todd, Robert, and the John Dick 50k

Todd Egnarski's Race Report...

I’m not going where Mary always has to. (She’s Catholic.)

I pack everything up the night before so I don’t have to wake my wife. Go over it again and again in my head, I don’t want to forget anything or have to think of something in the middle of the night and lay there awake thinking about it. You don’t have to forget anything to lay awake….. 4:00am and I’m wide awake. Grab a little breakfast, pass on the coffee and out of the house by 6:00. As many of you know I have had stomach issues in the past, so that is always a worry but I know when to call it a day. Being an early season race I have no expectations nor does anyone else. This is a great run to check how you have weathered the winter months.

The JD is a wonderful low budget race with everything except t-shirts and medals. (And who wants those.) Robert did a great job keeping it this way, right down to the toe tags that they use as race numbers. A log cabin with a warm fire burning is race central.  One well stocked aid station on the 10k loop manned by some of the most helpful, giving people you’ll ever meet. (Also a joke or smartass comment at no extra charge.)The weather was perfect and except for a couple icy spots the trails were pretty decent also. This is one of those races you can come and use it as a training run or you can race it.
Robert does the prerace meeting and chases everyone to the parking lot for the start. Down the pavement to the trails, see Dave Obrien taking pictures from a ladder and Gorski threatens to knock him off. Oh yea, she’s Catholic. 

Within the 1st mile I settled in with a group of runners somewhere just inside the top ten. Over the next 4 hours, Angie, Mikey, Mark and I talked over many things. Angie has run with some high caliber runners, Scott Jurek, Hal Koerner to name a couple. It really just seemed to drift by. Seeing and cheering on fellow runners and friends. Seeing legends  like Tom Bunk, John Rodee, Jim Blanchard and Paul Gionfriddo added the final touches to the day. The last 10k wasn’t as easy as the first 40k but it never is. Had a great time and an awesome run. No stomach issues!!!!

The food was wonderful………… the volunteers were awesome.
Great event Robert!
All for $10.

And for a little more... Robert Wehner's Race Director Report...

LPTR was well represented at the 22nd annual John Dick Memorial 50k, held on snowmobile trails in the Southern Kettle Moraine.  January’s thaw had left the trails with a thin cover of crusty snow and hard ice, and a storm earlier in the week covered that up with a few inches of snow.  This left us with a less than ideal running surface, as the snow tended to slip over the ice below.  Temps were good though, low 20’s at the start and a high of about 30.

Conditions allowed us to use our standard course, which consists of an out-and-back segment and a loop (kind of like a lollipop, only with a very twisted stem and a misshapen head).  My lack of sleep leading up to the race was evident as I described the course during the pre-race briefing as a “lollipoop”.  With each lap being 10k, runners had to complete this circuit 5 times.

I had a good run, fading on the 5th lap but holding onto fourth place (4:39:33), with a hard-charging Todd Egnarski close behind in sixth (4:41:45).  In the Women’s race, ultra-running machine Julie Treder finished second (5:34:22), and Angela Barbera was fourth (5:55:24). Angela was also the masters champ.  Other finishers included Jeff Mallach (5:29:34), Brad Birkholz (6:00:23), Troy Malinowski (6:01:04), and Jim Blanchard (6:20:36).

There were also many other LPTRs running a portion of the race: Christine Crawford, Craig Swartwout, Jeff Crosby, Chaz Heckman, Sandee Lammers, Tony Cantrall, and Cassie Scallion.  LPTRs were also among the volunteers: Joel Lammers, Scott Crawford (and Christine too), Steve Barbera, Ryan Erisman, and Julie Paulson.

While having to repeat the course 5 times can be mentally tough (a challenge for some in our group), the layout allows everyone to see each other during the entire event.  I’ve come to think of this as the signature feature of the race, and the social aspect is big amongst the runners who came.  There will be other races to put your head down and grind it out, but for this day, it is perfect to be able to see all of your friends over and over.

Robert Wehner, RD

Monday, February 8, 2010

Don't mess with Texas - Rocky Raccoon 100

Kevin Grabowski's Race Report:

It’s no fun to write a race report when things don’t go well… however, those are the reports I most enjoy reading.   The races where the wheels come off and bad decisions lead to dumb ones.  The gory details of a complete meltdown and disintegration are often more easy to identify with than the cheery recap of a race gone flawlessly.  I would like reading a report like this - if it weren’t mine…

 I thought signing up for a winter 100 would keep me motivated to retain my fitness and keep the momentum I felt at the end of 2009 – my own personal carrot on the end of the stick.   Unfortunately, even as the race approached and I knew I hadn’t been doing long runs, I still didn’t get out there and do the work. 

In the weeks leading up to the race I began to panic a little bit and even considered changing my entry to the 50 mile but I figured if I started slow and ran conservatively I could “fake” my way through it.

 I didn’t stick to the plan.  I didn’t have much of a plan since I was pretty unsure about my fitness level, but I all I knew was I had to go out slow. That plan didn’t last long as I completed the first 20 miles in 2:51.  It just felt so easy.  The course is really fast – five 20 mile loops - definitely some technical nature as there were some roots and ruts, but mostly just fast.  Very little elevation change made every step runnable and after logging most of my winter miles on the snow covered and hilly Ice-Age trail, this felt effortless. 

Naively, I started to think maybe I was secretly more fit than I had thought - Maybe my body was just resting during my lazy winter lay-off and I was going to rock this thing!  So I kept rolling.  I chugged through 40 miles in 6:01, 52 miles in 8:16, and 60 miles in 9:41.  I was slowing down on every loop but even with a 3:40 fourth loop, I still managed to get to 80 miles in 13:58. 

At this point I was thinking I had a legitimate shot at breaking 18 hours – or at worst I could hang on to an sub 19 if things went terribly wrong.   

It was now night and the temperature was dropping so I switched my short sleeve shirt out for a dry long sleeve.   I was actually looking forward to the colder temps a little – hoping they would revive my tiring legs and it didn’t occur to me to grab extra warm clothes out of my car parked near the start/finish area before heading off on the final loop. 

I should note - I didn’t have any drop bags – I wasn’t trying to macho out some solo effort – It was a matter of practicality as the pre-race instructions said drop bags wouldn’t be returned to the start/finish area until 1pm Sunday and my flight was leaving Houston (an hour and a half away) at 2:50pm.  So I packed whatever I thought was practical into my Camelbak and carried it the whole race.

I had a little more trouble getting started on this final loop and my legs just couldn’t keep a good cadence so I walked for the first time during the race and hoped they would spring back with some rest.   I knew I had a good cushion so I ran when I could and walked when I had to.  The first aid-station was 3.1 miles out and I hoped I would start being able to run more after that.  But things just got worse.  I drank a bunch of soup at that aid-station and shuffled back out. 

My whole body started to feel like one big cramp.  When something on my Camelbak was squeaking and annoying me, I reached back to tighten the strap on the flap over the cover and my shoulder and triceps spasmed.  Then I tried to take off my shoe to dump out some debris and had trouble getting back up.  Even my ever slowing walking pace was making me want to stop and rest.  Without running I was cooling down rapidly and starting to shiver and shake. 

It took me almost an hour and half to cover the next 3.1 miles to the second aid station.  By the time I got there I was a wreck - One big shivering cramping mess. The people working there were so nice to me – putting me in front of a propane heater, getting me soup and hot-chocolate, helping me change my socks – they even gave me some gloves.  I spent nearly 45 minutes there until I stopped shaking and knew I better get moving. 

I had a 6 mile loop to complete before I would be able to return to this same aid-station and face the last 8 miles.  So off into the dark and cold I stumbled.   I tried not to think about the time I was hemorrhaging.  With every step I was down-grading my finish goals until I settled into the death march of those who just want to finish.

I spent the better part of 3 miles trying to talk myself into continuing, but those thoughts started turning to more and more to justifications for quitting.  In those last miles on the course I practiced the conversations I would have with my friends – trying on the role of the DNF’er for the first time.  That role didn’t feel as bad as I did, and in the end I was just done.

 About half-way through that loop was a tent check point where I announced that I was dropping.   Ironically, I still had to walk another couple of miles through a short cut and back onto the course to get to the start/finish – but now I was walking among the runners as a DNF – not someone in the race.  

Unfortunately they don’t stamp a giant blinking DNF on you, so spectators and other runners kept wishing me well as I headed back.  “Keep going Man – You are almost there!!”  

Damn, I almost was.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

LPTR's on XC skis!

Robert Wehner's race report:
This past Saturday (Jan. 30th), a bunch of us did the Noquemanon ski marathon.  The Noque is a 50K point to point course in the UP, from Ishpeming to Marquette.  The course is beautiful, with great logistics.  It’s only a 15-minute drive to the start, and there is a school adjacent to the start line to sit in and stretch out (indoor plumbing too!) while waiting for your wave to start.  No shivering in a tent outside and waiting in lines for porta-potties like at the Birkie.  The finish is right outside of the NMU sports dome (the largest wood-framed dome in the world), which provides a great place to relax after the race.

Marquette had been hit earlier by the same warm weather and rain that we had experienced, so the snow cover in the UP had thinned out and iced up in spots.  The groomers did a great job getting the course ready, including hauling snow to areas that were bare.  Temps at the start were about zero degrees, an improvement from last year when it was 5 below.  The cold temps created spots where the snow was “sticky”, but overall the glide was pretty good.

Ron “Jet Stream” Bero led our group with a fast time of 3:02.  I came in looking like the line from a classic Jethro Tull song (“Snot is running down his nose…”).  Joel Lammers finished looking very stout with ice coating his 1-month old beard.  Joel lost a bit of his stoutness though, as he became unnerved by the aforementioned snot.  Rounding out our group was Tony Cantrall, who had previously done the half-marathon (which covers the second half of the marathon course).  Tony had thought that the half-marathon was hilly, so he was in for a big surprise to find out that the real hills were in the first half of the course.  

In addition to the LPTRs, there were a number of familiar faces from our area.  Tom Labisch (co-owner of Instep) smoked us all with a sub 2:50 time, even though he had to ski the last 12 K with a broken pole.  Other finishers included Mary Gorski, Cathy Diamond, and Eileen Sherburne.  Mary is an ultra-runner with a Badwater 135 finish on her resume, while Cathy and Eileen are experienced adventure racers.  So while the winter months may take away some of our usual running trails, there is a way to get out on them when they are snow covered and groomed for skiing.

As the weekend wound down, a realization came to me.  There have been 12 Noquemanons, and I’ve skied them all.  Every year my family came up with me, and a routine, family traditions, became the norm.  There was the stay at a hotel with a pool, spa, and sauna.  Friday night was always pizza and pasta.  They would drop me off at the start, and pick me up in the afternoon at the dome.  While I was skiing, they went shopping (clothes shopping of course).  Saturday night we’d go to Hudson’s, and later in the evening return and share a dessert: the Mile-high Oreo Mud Pie, a 1-pound pile of ice cream, crushed oreos, whipped cream, and hot chocolate fudge.

But that’s come to an end now.  Kelley recently married, and will be moving to Alaska shortly.  Chloe is finishing up high school and has already begun receiving acceptance letters from out-of-state colleges.  

A tear runs down my cheek.  Is it sadness, a sense of loss for things no longer, or happiness, from the many memories created?  Probably a little of both.  Eventually a smile creeps in.  Next year, Sally and I won’t have to share the Mile-high Oreo Mud Pie!