Monday, November 26, 2012

A Wild Hair?!?!

Race Report from LPTRunner Troy Malinowski...

As this past Friday approached, I was looking at my training schedule of twenty-five miles and wondering where to run. The temperatures were supposes to be mild and I had a wild hair to use an event to get the miles in.

I searched the web and found the Tejas Trails WILD HARE trail runs scheduled and race day registration available. The event host 10K, 25K, 50K and 50M. I have heard that Joe puts on some good events, to include Bandera.

So, Saturday morning, I awoke early and still had the wild hair and drove two hours to the ranch in Warda. I was surprised when registration was inside someone’s kitchen and various runners awaiting the start sitting watching TV in the living room. I registered for the 50K, while contemplating the 50 mile.

Upon pre-race announcements, we learned the course was approximately a 7.8 mile loop. So we would be running four loops. At this time, the temperature was thirty-eight degrees and I was shivering in my shorts and short sleeve tech shirt, while many others looked to be wearing long johns. I believed a PR was possible, so I set up to pace for it.

At 0700, we were off. The first quarter mile was pasture into the woods on flat and sandy single-track to serpentine for the next three miles to the aid station. We were constantly running near someone on another portion of the trail, making it actually hard to know where you were later in the race. After the aid station, we ran through another portion of the pasture for about three quarters of a mile into a small gully winding a bit as we funneled into the corner of a field. The 10K runners continued directly back into the woods. We ran around the edge of the field, passing an operating oil rig and some tree lines before reentering the woods. This is where the most technical portion of the run began. During the next mile, we ran across wooden bridges, one curved along edge of gully into a steep and narrow climb. The climb was called the “Carpet Run”, as for the next two hundred yards, nearly straight up, was lined with carpet for traction and erosion prevention. And periodically small fifty yard patches of carpet spans thereafter. If you ever rode the wooden “Viper” roller coaster at Six Flags – Great America, this is what this portion was like. After leaving the coaster, we ran through camp ground area, field and into the barn prior to reaching the start/finish line to complete the loop.

At this time, I found that I was approximately seven minutes ahead of pace, so I slowed a bit to relax legs, which were feeling tight in the cool temperatures. I found my pace and was enjoying the run.

On Loop two, I ran front serpentine, through field and into gully pretty much alone, only seeing others on other trails, aid station or afar in field. About this time, I ran up on another runner and started talking to her as we climbed a hill. We continued to talk and proceeded into the Roller Coaster. As we came into view of the Barn, I found that I was about fifteen minutes ahead of pace. And then suddenly realized I DIDN’T PASS THE OIL RIG!! I missed the turn into the field.

What do I do now?? Run back and rerun the field? Continue running?

I continued running and tried to figure out. As I started third loop, I had a 50 Miler come up on me and set a good pace. We talked and he commented, “Just run the loop in the field twice as the trails intersect in the corner”, which I did. But mentally that hurt my run, as I was actually behind pace because of the missed loop and the sun was rising and heating up the air.

As I finished the third loop, I was about ten minutes behind pace and tried to push it. But thighs didn’t want to be pushed. I continued at a steady pace and finished strong, posting my second best 50K to date.

Joe and Tejas Trails put on a well organized event. A nice family like race, with many spectators and an enjoyable time.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Whispering to myself...

Race Report from LPTRunner Troy Malinowski...

Thinking of Tina and Cassie’s successful runs in the south, I decided I would run a southern race and use it as a motivator. 

As many know, it seems I never race, as I am usually training for the next goal or event. For the past two years, I have had a goal to become LPTR runner of the year breaking Julie’s 2010 completion of 942 miles. But life seems to take away the time needed to train and attend the many races needed. And my 143.17 miles so far this year was going to limit LPTR-ROTY this year again.

I am registered for a marathon and a half in January. I can train for that. And I could never start early enough for the Badgerland 24 Hour FX. But I have said for the past three years, I will not run it again.

With this all in mind, I signed up for the Whispering Pines 50K.

So, as the event approached, I scheduled my trip. Well, that schedule went out the window quickly and next thing I knew the event was a day away.

I left Wisconsin and the temperature was thirty-seven degrees. I drove and southern Illinois and Missouri brought temps of fifty-six. I was thinking the temperatures will assist my running and deter the local runners with the cold temperatures. Then, as I am nearing the event, a rain storm moves across and suddenly the temperatures spike to seventy-seven. And it is humid.

I arrive, check in and as the sun rises, toe the line. We begin to run and I am attempting to find my place on the single track trail. I find it, but the heart rate is a little high. I tried to slow some, but am being pushed as we are still grouped together. After a short time, we all found our places and ran steady. After the second aid station, the trail serpentines and we continually passed each other within arm’s reach as we climbed a hill sideways. As we approached the third aid station, we came within one hundred yards and the trail turned away, then back, then away, then back and within 25 yards we ran away and did a wiggly loop for the next mile. We were within one hundred yards of the aid station seven times and not passing the station. After reaching the third aid station, we crossed the road and about 200 yards later were headed full throttle down a steep hill for the next three quarters of a mile and back into the start/finish area after completing the first ten miles.

The 50K was three loops that started with two big rolling hills (like Magic Carpet ride and the Wall, placed together) into single track to Aid Station 2 at three miles, then snake-like for next four miles into Aid Station 3 and downhill into single track for last three miles. And these ten miles in a straight line were 1.6 miles apart total.

After the first loop, I came in and thought it could be a PR day. But after hitting the hills on loop two, much of the energy was gone. And at about mile 16, I was starting to dread the day and being on the trail. I was thinking about Michael’s comment to my Glacial 50 report, {the trail was telling you to} “spend more time and I will be kinder to you”. At this time, Charley Pride’s “I don’t think she’s in love anymore” came on. And it was certain the trail didn’t love me at that time. And the feeling was mutual. As the temperatures rose into the mid-eighties, I just kept trying to move forward. At this point, I experienced a first; the inside of my nose was sweating. And as I finished the second loop, I had lost thirty minutes and the PR day definitely ended.

I started loop three energized to finish with the mind set of only ten miles to go. How many ten milers have we ran over the years? This was going to be easy, at least mentally. And off I went and tackled those two hills. As I approached the hills, Charley shuffled back onto the IPod and sang ”The Easy Part’s over now” and the hardest part was going to be those hills and they were. With the energized attitude gone, I drudged forward and lost another fifty minutes on the last loop.

The race was mentally a challenge in the heat. But overall, the event was well run and the aid stations great. The trail had challenges with little technical spots.

I am happy it’s accomplished. With this I have firmed up my 2012 LPTR-ROTY with the accomplishment of 1054 miles in 24 hours. And I’m glad as Charley sings “The snakes crawl at night”. But then again, maybe this would have taken time off my finishing time, as I would have been screaming down those trails.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jim’s Fabulously Fun Efffin’ 50K Run

On Sunday it was close to 70 degrees in Milwaukee.

On Monday, it was not.

But the first running of “Jim’s Fabulously Fun Efffin’ 50K Run” in and around Devil’s Lake State Park was to be on Monday, not Sunday. Instead of 67 and sun, we had temperatures that seemed afraid to rise too far above 20 lest they’d be blown back down by the wicked high winds that also joined us for the run.

Jim even invited a few snowflakes for his effin’ 50K run. What’s a few more flakes; we were already a pretty flakey crew before the snowflakes joined us.

So how did our little group of flakes find ourselves running for eight-plus hours on the coldest day of autumn?

Most Mondays there is a group that does a long trail run in the Kettle Moraine. Led by Jim Blanchard, it’s a mix of people whose schedule leaves them with their Monday mornings free. Evidently they got to talking a few weeks ago and decided that on one of their Mondays they should enjoy a bit more than their usual adventure.

Why not make a road trip to Devil’s Lake and do a Fat Ass 50K run? No fees, no wimps, no whiners.

I got wind of it and decided that it would be an excellent way to commemorate Veterans Day. Brenda Bland from Madison decided the same. For awhile, it looked like we would have about a dozen runners joining us. But broken toes, cranky knees and a few scheduling conflicts reduced our ranks to five on race morning. I like to think of ourselves as the Fabulous Five: Jim Blanchard, Brenda Bland, Dawn Chavez, Deb Vomhof and me.

We started at the Parfrey’s Glen trailhead near Devil’s Lake where we jumped on the Ice Age Trail and headed toward the park. As we prepped in the parking lot we debated jackets, glove thickness and the sort. We all figured that we would be cold at first but soon warm up. I weighed the options: jacket or vest? Finally I decided to take both.

And I finished with both on and fully zipped.

Was my memory slipping? Hadn’t it been less than 24 hours since we last saw temps in the upper 60s? Didn’t we have the windows open on Sunday morning?

I thought about this as I tried to get fluid out of my hydration pack. “Hmmmm… the tube must be twisted, nothing is coming out.”

“My bite valve is frozen!” said one of the Fabulous Five. Criminey! My tube wasn’t twisted it was frozen. I pulled my jacket over it and in a mile it warmed back to life. Unfortunately, later in the run I got a bit lazy (forgetful) about maintaining the line and it froze for good with about four miles to go.


But all a part of the adventure. The trail was gorgeous and gave us a little bit of everything: rocks and roots under a blanket of leaves, open fields, ridge lines, some easy running on two-lane ski trails in the woods and hard running on twisty single track. We crossed bridges, ran down roads, and even, to the dismay of a few, did a bit of boldering as the wind whipped at us on the exposed cliffs over Devil’s Lake.

It was a beautiful view if you had the guts to turn your head around and look at it while climbing. Most of us took Jim’s word for it though and waited until the top to see what we were hoping not to fall off into.

The view didn’t disappoint. When we got to the top we realized that we weren’t the only ones enjoying the day. A bald eagle was perched on a tree enjoying the view as well. He probably had a good laugh watching us muddle up the rock climb, quietly whimpering along the way.

Jim’s effin’ 50K course took us primarily on the Ice Age Trail through the park to another trailhead where we had supplies stashed. Some filled hydration bladders. Some emptied other bladders. And off we went.

Coming back into the park we began to discuss the wisdom of down-climbing the bolder field we ascended to get to the top of the bluffs. Brenda, who is more familiar with the park than the rest of us, suggested a detour that would take us down to a mile-long section of railroad track. We could jog along the tracks and rejoin the Ice Age past the rock field.

With light snowflakes making the rocks a bit more treacherous we grabbed on to the idea. That is until we were in the midst of the train tracks in a path of loose rock that was definitely not designed for foot traffic – running or otherwise. Run? Walk? Nothing seemed to work well. Undulating rocks. Nothing in the running magazines about how to traverse those. Add headwinds that made it nearly impossible for us to hear each other; but then there were words coming out of some people’s mouths that really weren’t worth hearing.

Or maybe that was just my own mouth. Effin’ 50K run… effin’ fun? Effin’… oh, never mind.

We waved to the railroad workers doing track maintenance (who returned our waves with looks generally reserved for those waving out the bus window that is taking them back to the asylum after their day trip to the city).

Back on the Ice Age and the last ten miles or so of the day. The hours on our feet were starting to catch up with us and we found ourselves walking more than running. Our banter became quieter.

And then Jim saw the sign that indicated only 4.2 miles back to Parfrey’s Glen. Back to the car. Back to the food. Back to the down jackets and big wool hats.

He was the proverbial horse closing in on the barn. I latched on behind Jim but lost him now and then has he leaped over fallen trees (which I stopped and stepped over) and zipped around sharp turns.

About a dozen times we thought that the parking lot was just around the next turn.

And it wasn’t.

But finally it was, and upon seeing it Jim hooted and hollered and crossed the invisible effin’ finish line in first place. I came in and soon after so did the rest. However, the one and only award of the day (a serving platter with “Devil’s Lake” emblazoned upon it) went to Dawn for her bravery in overcoming her fear and making the climb up the bolder field.

Job well done Dawn!

Actually, a fabulous effin’ run by everyone. An effin’ good way to spend Veteran’s Day.

Thanks for your sacrifice and service, vets!