Sunday, October 27, 2013

Door County Fall 50!

Christine and Mary




Unexpected gifts are often the best gifts of all.

Door County's Fall 50 was certainly an unexpected gift for me yesterday. And like a kid the day after Christmas, the first thing that I thought of this morning was my favorite gift from the day before.

And then I took my first steps out of bed.

OUCH! 

It was a gift that came with a bit of a kick.

Two weeks ago I did the Glacial 50K in the Northern Kettle Moraine. Perfect weather, beautiful fall colors and a surprisingly good race on legs that have not been getting a lot of mileage in recent months. That was a good gift too, but more of a stocking stuffer. A nice little something to put a smile on my face for a day or two.

The day after Glacial I thought, "Well, if one race went well, might as well do another." I went online to sign up for the Lakefront Discovery run, a 15K race just a few miles from home along Milwaukee's lakefront.

But no room at the inn. The race was full. 

Criminey.

I went to my favorite race calendar – www.runningintheusa.com -- and started hunting. I found a few things -- a marathon in Middleton, a few 5Ks -- but nothing that really caught my attention... until I saw a listing for the Fall 50.

I remembered hearing about the event, a 50-mile race from Gills Rock at the tip of Door County to the last bit of land on the southern end of the peninsula in Sturgeon Bay. But when I went to the site the first thing that I saw was "FULL." 

Criminey again.

Then I looked a little closer and realized that it was the team event that was full. There were still openings in the solo category. Being an only-child I don't always play well with others so going solo was more to my liking. I pulled out the credit card and signed up.

I meant to do the Discovery Run, which is a race along Lake Michigan of a distance divisible by five. In Door County yesterday I did pretty much the same thing: ran primarily on the shore of Lake Michigan (technically, Green Bay) but in a race of 50 miles instead of 15 kilometers. Still divisible by five.

A little after 5 a.m. on Saturday morning the Li'l Mister and I made the quiet drive to Gills Rock. I don't know who the heck Gill was but he must have been quite a blowhard. His namesake had winds that could rival Dorothy's Kansas. However, except for the wind, the weather wasn't too bad. Upper 40s for the start, a couple of raindrops but no downpour. Later in the day the sun even poked out to check up on the runners. But never for long. Must have been the sun's day off. 

Before the start I said hello to a few of my LPTR friends including Aaron Schneider and Christine Crawford. Aaron grew up in Sturgeon Bay so the Door County 50 was his home field. 

Christine and I started off together, gabbing away until a I heard a porta-potty call my name. Usually 50 mile runs are on trails without the luxury of such civilized things as private little johns with toilet paper. 

I was living large in Door County!

The Fall 50 course is primarily on quiet roads decorated in many spots with peak fall colors. The race advertises itself as the "Most Scenic Run in the Midwest" and they aren't bragging. Along the lakeshore, wind-driven waves splashed across the rocks. On the roads, beautiful canopies of yellows and oranges surrounded us. When the winds from the lake found their way inland the leaves swirled around us like a golden snowstorm. 

I wasn't the only Gorski getting a workout in yesterday. After a summer of illness that led to the amputation of a good part of his foot, the Li'l Mister was crewing me for the first time in months and it was no easy task. With hundreds of teams added to the solo division, there were a lot of vehicles wandering around the Door Peninsula. Well managed with different routes for cars and runners the race course was rarely congested but the aid stations often had field-based parking lots that could rival those of a county fair. 

But Dave was determined to return to his crewing duties.  Bundled up in his winter gear and armed with a cane for balance, he made his way to most of the aid stations and stood for hours on end only to have me quickly pass through saying "feeling good, see you down the road!"

I'm sure that after a few stops he was ready to toss that race bag he had been hauling around right into Lake Michigan. You know the bag, the one filled with all of those "just in case" supplies that the runner rarely ever uses. 

I was feeling good. Surprisingly good. After about 30 miles I saw some familiar gaits ahead of me. Runners can often identify each other from afar by running style. I came up first on Thao Hoang, a member of our "Turned Away From the Grand Canyon Because of Government Shut-Down" group. Talking with him I learned that he was eventually able to do from the North Rim what several us could not -- run from one end of he canyon to the other… and back. He said it was fantastic. My guess was that he still had some Grand Canyon dust in his legs. 

Up ahead was Christine. Before the race we talked about expectations. I said that I was looking at finishing the race in 9 to 9.5 hours. When we saw each other that was still my plan. 

"But you are on a pace to finish under 8:30," she said. 

"Oh no, I'll fall apart. Don't worry; we are still in double digit mileage before the finish line. The wheels are going to fall off any minute."

I had never run 50 miles under 8:30. I can't even remember the last time I ran under 9 hours. A road course is going to be faster than trails, but still, 8:30 hadn't been in my reach for years. I'm a "senior master" now, surely my PRs are behind me.

At the halfway point I was at 4:11. Double that and you have 8:22. "That gives me a nice cushion to slow down and come in under nine hours" I kept thinking to myself. But even with a few more pit stops and a newly placed hill that brought me down to a slow walk for about a half mile I was still maintaining a steady pace. 

The last aid station was less than five miles from the finish. I told the Li'l Mister that my legs were getting tired. My hip flexors didn't feel like flexing a lot any more. 

"What did you expect? You've run over 45 miles. You are supposed to be tired. See you at the finish!"

And off he went. 

I saw the 46 mile marker sign and realized that I was still on a pace to come in under 8:30. Actually, I was on a pace to do an even race: second half in the same time as the first.

But I still thought that the wheels would fall off. "At least now if I have to, I can walk it in and probably still finish under 9 hours," I kept saying to myself. 

I thought this up until I made the turn into Sunset Park and the last half mile of the race. By then I could have stopped, taken a short nap and still made my time goal of 9 hours. And at the start of the race it really wasn't a goal, it was just a hope. 

Coming through the finishing chute I looked at the race clock because I no longer believed my wristwatch. 

8:21 (and a lot of change, but still, it wasn't yet 8:22).

I ran the second half faster than the first.

I ran a personal best by… I really don't know. It's been so long since I have run anything under 9 hours that I haven't a clue. But I do know that I've never clocked a 50-miler under 8:30.

What a wonderfully unexpected gift. 

I saw Aaron, who finished about 15-20 minutes ahead of me. I thanked Ashley for cheering me on as I trudged up the longest hill of the course. Got some warm clothes on and saw Christine come in. Cheers and hugs. Finish photos. 

And then the shivers. That gosh darn wind still hadn't let up and I was turning into a popsicle, as was Dave. The party tent looked like a lot of fun but I desperately wanted a hot shower. It would be the bow on top of my most wonderfully unexpected most wonderful gift of a race. 

This morning my legs are whimpering. My back is a little stiff. My shoulder has a kink from carrying a waterbottle all day. There is a blister on my foot that could use a pop.

And I couldn't be happier.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Enter My Racing Mind: My North Face Endurance Challenge (Madison) 50K Report

LPTRunner Nick Wied's race report...


I have the same conversation weekly.  It usually takes place while in some non-trail running social setting.  Casual banter with others who run usually leads to questions of what races I have run, places I like to train, or distances covered. My response, that I run ultras and specifically trail ultras, always elicits the same reaction; disbelief, curiosity, awe, and fear.  Several responses are; “You ran how far?”, “That’s INSANE!”, “I don’t even like to drive that far!”.  My favorite two though are “How much do you run to train for that?” and “What the HELL do you think about for that long on the trail?”  Well I will answer both of these in the context of my last race, The North Face Endurance Challenge (Madison) 50K.

First, “How much do I run to train for ultras?”!  I will cover this in a future post detailing my training for this season as well as nutrition and recovery!  There 1st question answered.  I know procrastination right!

Second, “What the Hell do you think of for that long on the trail?”!  I am going to use my most recent race to answer this.  TNF Madison is a really easy ultra to wrap your brain around, as you can break it into distinct sections.  The first 7 miles are road and hilly ski trails, the next 5 are hilly and sand filled horse trails, followed by 9 miles of fast Ice Age Trail running, and the final 10 miles on the sandy horse trails. Now here is a breakdown of how I mentally handled the race and its challenges.  For a similar take, for a much longer effort, on race reporting check out Adam Condit’s (3rd place) Podcast “TNF 50Mile Audio Recap”

I arrived at the race about an hour early, which gave me time to warm my legs up a bit and head to the first aid station to watch the lead 50 Mile racers as they came through. The first two through, Tyler Sigl and Brian Condon, were moving insanely quick for a dark mile 7 with 43 to go. No worries for these two though, Tyler would go on to finish 1st in 5:38 setting a new course record, with Brian right behind in 2nd with a 5:55.  Anyways back to my race, I got to the start line so let the fun begin, welcome to my mind! (It will be in italics and underlined!)

Wow this is cold, good thing I brought this crappy old long sleeve shirt to stay warm!  Wait what did that guy just say?  As I was lining up a guy, looking like he stepped directly out of Trail Running Magazine, was laughing at the individual in front of him, wearing only Hokas, shorts, a head band, a torn up long sleeve shirt, and no bottle, stating “This joker should be farther to the back!”.  Well that guy was me, and my bottle was tucked into my shorts so I could keep my hands warm.   Oh yeah buddy, we’ll see what good all that compression and anchor(Hydration Pack)are doing you out at mile 25! Is that Dean Karnazes, huh why is he talking about Francis Scott Key?   A history lesson??  Whatever,  I guess he did write a book!   5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!

Alright we are running, man this road sucks I am so glad it is only1.5 miles till the trail and that 1st hill.  Man I just went from guy #20 to guy #120 look at these fools running at 5k pace.  Hmmm, Maybe I should be running faster, nope, I feel like crap!  Man I need to get off of this road.  Look there’s ANTON!  No wait just some guy with long hair, beard, and full ANTON kit, funny!  Wow when will this road end, oh wait there’s the trail and that first hill, time for some power hiking!  I dropped down a gear as this first hill is pretty lengthy and steep enough that hiking it at mile 2 is preferable. Holy shit, what the fuck!  Why are these people running this hill at 5 min pace, am I really moving that slow, man I feel like crap, come on legs loosen the hell up!  I glanced down at my watch for the 1st of only 3 times the whole race to learn that I was in fact “hiking” this hill at 9 min pace, so no I wasn’t moving slow they were just going way too fast for mile 3. Screw these hosers!  I’ll catch them later, WHAT is going on with my MOTHA F’N LEGS!!! My grandpa could move up this hill faster than me!  Oh well screw it, it’s gonna be one of those days.  Maybe if I think a happy thought they will loosen up, man maybe I should have warmed up a bit more.  Wait here’s the down hill.  This was the thought process that would accompany me for pretty much the first 7 miles. Early on about mile 4 I met up with Andrew Hollatz, from Madison.  He was running his first ultra, and had a few questions regarding the course and how it raced.  The conversation was flowing smoothly and he and I were running similar paces, though he was pushing the climbs while I would catch him on the descents.  We ran through the mile 7 aid station in 30something place, not bad for crappy tight legs that refused to climb.

Let the 5 mile loop on the Horse Trail begin.  Man these legs are finally starting to work, I must be getting old it now takes me 5+ miles to warm up.  Hmmm I’m getting hungry must be time for some honey.  Man I LOVE running!  For this race I simplified my nutrition plan to consist of a flask filled with honey that was diluted with coconut water.  I planned to use this, VESPA, and the odd orange or potato chip at an aid station until mile 22 AS then switch over to coke in my water bottle for the remainder of the race. Man that honey was good, and so easy.  Who says never try anything new on race day, this was a great idea.  Maybe I should have tried it in a long run.  Ahhh who cares I have a stomach of steel I could eat dirt if I had to.  Wow these hills are coming easier, and the downs are really starting to heat up! BLAMO buddy, yeah that’s right, you there, guy who was making fun of me at the start line, why are you running 10 min pace down this hill!  SWEET the final long hill into the aid station before we hit the Ice Age Trail, my legs feel awesome, it’s time to pick it up!  Man this hill is insane awesome I frickin love running down hills!  For the second time during the race I glanced down at my watch to see that I was holding 4 min pace down this hill.  I blasted through this aid station to learn Andrew and I were now in 20 something place. Now it was time to run fast.

The Ice Age Trail Section of this race runs really fast, similar to a fire road.  There are a few hills but they are rollers and you can really fly through the open meadows with the cool AM temps.  I was able to move through this section and maintain 6:50-7 min pace pretty easy.  Hell yeah, I am killing this trail.  Hey, I know this guy he went screaming by me on that first hill, why is he walking, this is flat?  Oh man I feel awesome.  Wait it’s starting to get hot I might have to loose this jersey soon.  MAN AM I HUNGRY, where did that come from.  Hmmmm, crap this honey is almost gone.  How long have I been running, ahhh that’s why it time for more VESPA!  Whew! Now I feel better, I hope  the honey will last, I only have a bit more to go till aid.  Where is this aid damn station? Oh here we go, I am starting the horse trail.  MAN, I hate this sand where the hell does it all come from!

As the 9 mile fast Ice Age Trail ends you are introduced to the horse trails by a long climb that seems like 2 hills but is really just 1 long one with a false top.  Andrew and I were still running together at this point, but my season of racing was catching up with me.  My body and mind were tired.  I would be hiking all the rest of the ups, and running the downs and sandy flats as fast as possible.  Andrew told me he was feeling strong, I encouraged him to go smash it and catch as many as he could!  HE did! Andrew ended up finishing 3rd 6 minutes ahead of me!  Man, this stupid sand, this is why I said I would never run this race again!  Where is this mile 22 AS?  Why is it so hot?  Man I feel like crap, I am so tired I just want to sit down!  That tree looks pretty comfortable!  Oh there’s someone, crap I should try to pass.  AHHHHH why do my legs hurt so much, passing was not a good idea. CRAMP!!!! FUCK!!!  Where are my S Caps.  Man those taste like shit when you chew them!  Sweet no more cramp, works everytime.  Through experience I have found that when I start to develop a cramp if I chew salt pills or drink a super salty liquid, pickle juice, my cramps will abate within a few seconds.  No real science to back this one up, just my personal experience.

As I ran through the mile 22 Aid I learned I was now in 12th place, and I was feeling pretty good and ready to finish my last race of the season!  There is the 22 mile AS, man I can’t wait for that coke!  Man I am so hot this jersey is coming off now!  WHAT, PEPSI, who the hell drinks fucking PEPSI!!!! Fine who cares its sugar and caffine, it can’t taste any worse than chewing these damn S Caps!  Alright I feel so much better without out that jersey. Man if only this carbonated Pepsi in this stupid bottle would stop spraying all over my like some jungle shower! Sweet there is the lead women, I am not going to be chicked today!  Man I am moving ok through this sand.  It is time for some tunes.  That’s right bitches I am rocking Aerosmith and now you all get to enjoy my lovely voice as I run down this trail.  Man I love running.  WOW, it is getting hot again, crap I can’t pour this stupid Pepsi over my head.  Is that a water faucet, it is ahhhh, sweet relief!!  At mile 24ish there is a water faucet a few feet off of the trail, and it makes for a great cool off station.

Just a few more miles of sand and then you come upon the final hill that leads back out to the road and the finish.  It was running down this final hill that I check my watch, for the third time, to learn that I was running another 4 min mile!   Man I CAN NOT WAIT FOR THIS SAND to END!!!!!. I hate sand!!! Man this music is awesome, I hope this mp3 player doesn’t die.  Arrrgghhh!!  When will this sand end!  Oh wait I am coming up on that final hill.  Holy sweet mother of GOD I only have 2 miles left!!  ARRGGGHHH, I will run this hill, I will run this hill, I… I am running this hill.  There’s the top time to let it rip!!!  Kamikaze!!!! Is that Dean K running at me, look out Dean I am going too fast to stop.  Right on that’s another 4:30ish mile!! Holy smoke this feels awesome! Wait what’s that cop doing down there at the bottom.  WHAT, wait here WHAT!!! I don’t have time to wait I want to be done with this race.


The final 2 miles are back on the road to the finish, unfortunately you can hear and see the finish but it always seems to be just too far away.  I just have one final stumble through a ditch to the finish arch, and the announcer trying his hardest to pronounce my city’s name, Wauwatosa, then giving up and just saying Milwaukee.  Yes, I can see the finish! Yes I can hear the finish!  Man I must be crushing this pace right now! I was only running 6:55 pace but it felt more like 5 min effort!  I can see the finish!  I can see the, WHAT THE…. when does this damn thing end. Screw you cramps I am just going to keep running!  Where is the damn…ooooffff…who the hell puts a ditch right before the finish!  Finally, the END!  Smile nice for the camera, make it seem easy!  What the heck is the MC saying, ha ha he can’t pronounce Wauwatosa! Oh man am I glad to be done.  I NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN!  Well we’ll see how I feel tomorrow ;)!

I was pretty pleased with my race, my pacing, and my nutrition.  I started off slow and only got faster.  I was never passed the entire race and worked my way up the field from somewhere around 40th to 7th overall and a 1st place in my age group!  As for not trying something new on race day, the diluted honey worked great.  The rest of my nutrition plan consisted of VESPA, salt, water, and Pepsi.  Keep it simple, right!  I want to thank my family who always support me no matter how crazy my next adventure is. I also want to thank my sponsors VESPA and Performance Running Outfitters, your support and advice allow me to pursue and conquer great challenges.  I had a great racing season and cannot wait to start planning for next year.

I hope you enjoyed the report, I know it was different, but I hope it gave you a feel for how my mental state changes throughout a race, and how important it is to keep a good mental outlook when things are starting to go wrong.  For those of you still racing this year, let it rip!  For the rest of us, sit back have a drink, and enjoy the rest!


RESULT
4:20:41  (7th Overall)  (1st Age Group)

GEAR
Hoka One One Bondi 2
TNF “Better than Naked” Shorts
Drymax Trail Socks
PRO Sugoi Race Singlet
Ultimate Direction Hand Bottle
Nike Head Band


NUTRITION
Pre Race
2 hours before
2 Justins Chocolate Hazelnut packets
1 Green Tea with coconut oil
1 VESPA Ultra Concentrate
1 Multi Vitamin, 2 Fish Oil, 1 Vit D, 1 Magnesium,
6 Capra Flex


45 min before
1 VESPA JR


Race
1 VESPA JR
6oz honey diluted with coconut water
2 UD bottles of pepsi
Water
S caps


Post Race
1 Guinness

1 recovery smoothie
1 hard cider
1 Large meal followed by several more large meals







Thursday, October 10, 2013

Birkie Trail Marathon


Race Report from LPTRunner Joe Fitzgibbon...

On Saturday I made it back to the start line of my favorite marathon.  I love running the Birkie.  Here’s why
1.     Tough - With 4500 ft of elevation in 26 miles, it is not too different from running 4 consecutive black loops at Lapham.
2.     Small - The race is growing in popularity.  Now in its 4th year, there were around 130 runners at the start (and 109 that would cross the finish).
3.     Point to point - I just like a straight line course.  Start in Hayward, first one to Cable wins.
4.     Beautiful - I wish I could spend more time in the Chequamegon Forest.
5.     Well run - Good aid stations, bike patrol on the course, multiple events plus a kid’s race, great food and beer at the end.

In short, I had a great race for the shape I am in.  I ran this race faster in 2011.  This year I got a late start on training due to a foot injury in spring.  I ran the race in 4:51 with a very even pace.  Here are the highlights;

What worked / what went well
Pacing - I started the race with the mindset that I was racing a 10k – and the starting line is 20 miles down the trail.  It worked for me.  I held as even a pace as I ever have in a marathon or ultra.

Ice Bath – I am a believer.  6 minutes of soaking in a tub full of ice after the race, and my ankles felt springy again.

What didn’t go well / what to improve for next year
Hill Training - Didn't get nearly enough.  I ran about 9 black loops total in the weeks leading up to the race. More would have been better.   Next year I plan to run 40 in the 18 week span between Ice Age and Birkie.  

The Taper - Like always, I screwed it up.  I just have a hard time passing up a ride, or run, or Spartan-fit class.

Lucky breaks
Weather - Starting line temperatures were in the 40’s and there was cloud cover most of the day.

Chafing - It started mid race and not every aid station had petroleum jelly.  Fortunately I found a tube of brand-name healing ointment on the trail around mile 17 (dropped by some unfortunate faster runner).

Door prize - I won a subscription to a reputable trail running themed magazine!

Favorite Moments
The last 6 miles - I am going to paraphrase a quote from one of the LPTRs, and I really believe this.  "We put in all the hours of training just for that brief feeling of invincibility that you sometimes get late in a race."  I got that feeling this time and it was AWESOME!

Crossing the finish - My daughters were waiting for me, and we all crossed the finish together.

The feeling of competition - anticipation at the start, the lift you get when someone cheers for you at an aid station, utter exhaustion lying on the ground 10 minutes after the finish, and the reborn fervor for next year as you mind turns over ideas to do it better next time.


Not catching my wife - She ran the half marathon again.  Last time I caught her at mile 24.  This year she beat me to the finish.  Nice work Sarah!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

T-Bunk Endurance Challenge!


50k?  50Mile?? 100Mile??? 150Mile???? 200Mile????!
There has got to be a distance that fits YOU!! 

Save the Date: November 1-3, 2013

 All the details right here: http://tbunk.breezellp.com/

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Teva Review...


Shoe Review from LPTRunner, Todd Egnarski...

After running as a heel striker for over 10 years, I was finally able to transition to a midsole runner two years ago. So when I received a pair of Tevasphere Trail shoes that had been engineered to prevent supination and pronation (“change your shoe, not your stride”), my first thought was “it’s too late for me, but maybe not for others.”
Nonetheless, I gave them a good test, running and hiking in the Smokey Mountains during my vacation there.
TheTevas are heavier than minimalist shoes, but lighter than a trail shoe.  The comfort they provide may actually be worth the additional weight.  After a week-long workout, I didn’t experience any hot spots.
They have what Teva calls support pods.  The pods look a bit strange – protuberances built out from the middle of shoe – but the ride is more stable and they do seem to straighten out your foot and you roll through your stride.
Traction was good and the waterproof upper appears well-built and durable, with decent ventilation – a must for avid trail runners.
I would highly recommend these shoes.  They are stable and comfortable – and the rubber tread keeps you on the trail.  My only criticism after running almost exclusively in minimalist trainers is that they are a bit on the heavy side.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Massanutten Mountain 100


Race Report from LPTRunner Brenda Bland...
The Massanutten Mountain 100. I signed up for this race, as I had heard so much about the beauty, and it is one of the older races at 19 years old. I like races with character, and this one has it in spades! The motto is "Massanutten Rocks". This is because the trails are indeed covered in rocks. They range in size from a small mouse to a huge barn. They have a glowing beauty in the early spring when the MMT is run, and feel like another type of living organism. They give this race its' character, and are what make it one of the harder hundreds.

The race itself is indeed hard. There is sufficient elevation gain for those who love climbing, but it is done on rocks. The rocks give the ankles and lower legs a beating. In addition, all the down-hills are fairly steep and again on rocks, so the quads get trashed as well. My quads were shot by mile 45, and I could only kind of shuffle-run. Fortunately, this worked well on the terrain and allowed me to keep moving at a decent pace.

Being a middle of the pack runner, I tend to be a back of the pack runner at hundreds. I think this is because most hundreds have a 60 to 67 percent finishing rate, so all the slower runners behind me don't finish. Either that or I'm just slow at hundreds. Either way, I don't have room for any kind of issues at these events or I won't make it. My strategy is to plan for everything and prevent all issues before they happen. This means I don't wait until that hot spot hurts. I stop on the trail and take care of potential blisters right then and there. This prevents lost time tending to my feet or slowing down from the pain. Same way, I don't wait until I'm hungry, but have a food schedule. I have learned from my failures that I need to address issues immediately, or they will only grow exponentially. Boy, have I learned from my failures!!!

That said, I had a really great race day. I was very lucky to come to MMT on a good year. MMT was almost magical with how much good luck I had! For example, there was a 50 percent chance of rain that day. It did rain, but only enough to minimally sprinkle and cool us off. The rain really didn't cause any mud or slippery rocks at all. Lucky me. The temperatures a week before the race were supposed to be a high of 85. Fortunately, the forecast dropped to a high of 73 and that is what we got. The lower temperatures made all the difference, and contributed to the extraordinarily high finishing rate of 76 percent this year. Lucky me! To be honest, I really felt good all the way through. One bad patch in early morning, and then I was fine after pounding calories. I was still singing on the last few miles into the finish. Oh yes, Lorraine Bunk would have been proud. Just before I turned the corner for the last 100 feet to the finish, I cleaned my face with a wet wipe, undid my hair, fluffed it, and dumped my pack on a tree stump. Photo opp ready!
I do these events partially for the challenge, but also for the people. Part of the fun for me is to chat up other runners and learn their story. I ran with various folks and was even able to keep up with the famous Gary Knipling in the first few miles. He was very positive and encouraging to everyone, and freely dispensed race advice which I took to heart. This was Gary's 16th MMT, so he knows of what he speaks. At 69, Gary was one of the older participants and was telling me about his running group who are all going out to The Black Hills 100 this June. Gary did indeed finish the MMT this year, keeping the legend alive.

I saw only one old friend there at MMT, Liza Howard. Many of you met or heard about her at Leadville in 2010. Since Liza was 5 months pregnant, she 'only' paced a friend of hers for around 40 miles or so. I chatted with her after the race, and was sorry I missed her on the trails. Imagine Liza and her cute belly traipsing down the trail! She'll be pacing again at Western States when she will be 7 months pregnant. That'll keep folks on their toes!

RD and aid station review:
Kevin Sayers is the Fabulous RD for MMT, and is old school.
1. Old school means the trails are marked fantastically. I never had the slightest worry about being lost.
2. Old school also means the aid stations were fully stocked and very attentive. You wouldn't need to carry any food at all!
3. Old school also means that each aid station had the GPS coordinates provided for crew in the race packet. That was so great. My patient and long suffering husband simply entered the coordinates, and our GPS took him right to the aid station. If you've ever driven in the dark on back roads looking for an aid station, hoping you don't miss your runner, you'll see the value of this immediately.
4. Old school also means that Kevin greets each finisher personally. When you cross the finish line, Kevin high fives upi. That means the last finisher gets the same treatment as the first finisher. If you run the Kettle, Timo Yanacheck will give you the same welcome. Well played Gentlemen!

Massanutten Checklist:
1. Hallucinations-Check. I had many auditory and visual hallucinations. This time they were all about runners, including a fully stocked aid station. I could see the runners in their white hats standing around the aid station and hear the murmur of talking. Turned out to be a mud puddle.
2. Millipedes-Check. Race reports describe these as all over the place. I didn't see that many, but I swear I saw one that was 6 inches long!
3. People complaining of urinating blood – Check. At least two guys complained of this, and were out. Most likely they were low on water and food and so the bladder banged against the pelvis as they ran on the rocks. Better to be safe though.
4. Eat a peanut butter bacon brownie – Check. Each aid station vies to be the best one, and they ARE! However, the bacon aid station stood out. One of my buddies ate several pieces of bacon here, and went on to finish. You just never know what will work at an ultra!
5. Get off trail to pee in the bushes, come back to the trail and go the wrong way – Check. Fortunately two guys found me before I went too far. Boy, was I confused when I saw them running towards me!
6. Take your time and enjoy the beauty, majesty and mystery of Massanutten Mountain – Check.

That was my Massanutten. I had a great day, enjoyed the run, and found the area incredibly beautiful. If you decide to do this race, do your homework. The elevation change is nothing to take for granted, and you'd better get those Quads and lower legs ready to run on rocks and downhill. Prepare for heat and rain, but get ready to enjoy it if you get weather like I did.

Thanks for listening. Now get out there and run!

Friday, May 24, 2013

“You Run To Find Quiet” – Ice Age Trail 50 Mile Race Report

LPTRunner - Nick Wied's Race Report...

 – Ice Age Trail 50 Mile <http://www.iceagetrail50.com/site/>
“Daddy I know why you run for so long in the woods!”  This was how my daughter started a facetime conversation with me while I was in NJ, the morning before the race.  I asked her why and she responded; “When you run in nature your heart is talking to God.”  I was shocked, as I usually am, by the crystal clarity my daughter’s statements can provide during hectic times.  The days leading up to the Ice Age Trail 50 Mile <http://www.iceagetrail50.com/site/>  race had been truly hectic.  I believe that racing ultra-distance events prepares you for the challenges of life, and I was about to fully test this theory.
It started three weeks earlier when I raced the Mad City 50K <http://www.madcity100k.com/home.php> .  I had a great race but had really punished my legs.  I have never raced 2 ultras so close together before so I was entering uncharted territory.  Then a week before the race my boss called to ask if I was busy the following week, race week.  I told him my birthday was on Wednesday and Saturday I was racing 50 miles.  His response was, “good you are free Thursday and Friday, we need you in NJ.”  Finally the winter in WI had been exceptionally brutal and had not really dissipated until the prior 2 weeks.  This meant that I had zero race specific training for a hilly, trail, 50 mile race.  As I was flying home Friday evening the guy next to me asked if I had plans for the weekend, after telling of the race he commented that I seemed really relaxed for someone about to run 50 miles. I was, deep down I needed this race, the trails, the challenge, and the quiet of nature so my heart could talk to God!  Well, let the challenge begin, it was time to find my quiet.
Racing the Mad City 50K <http://www.madcity100k.com/home.php>  had left my legs tired, but I was pretty sure they had recovered enough to finish and possibly race the 50 miles.  Keeping this in mind I lined up in the middle of the crowd, and decided to take the first 9 mile loop extremely easy.  I say crowd because there were over 400 starters for the 50 Mile race.  Due to my starting position as well as the slower beginning pace (11-12 min miles) I got to run with some incredible individuals.  One such gentleman was Mike Price from Salt Lake City, UT.  Mike is 62, started running ultras in the early 80’s, and has run almost all of them (over 200).  Clicking off early miles with him involved an awesome game of name that race.  I named them, he told me how many times he finished, DNF’d, or DNS’d, and how to train for them.  This was awesome and the early 9 mile loop flew by.  As I came into the aid station (mile 9) I decided my legs felt good so I would gradually pick up the pace.  I made the decision here that I would not be passed by ANYONE in this race, I would only pass people.   I normally run ultras on water and gels, well I surveyed the aid table and there were no gels.  The volunteer apologized, I smiled, thanked them for everything, and told them; “No worries, you guys are awesome, time to run my first ultra on ginger ale.”
The next 14 or so miles down to Rice Lake (mile22) went pretty smoothly.  I took the technical sections closer to the lake pretty easy, especially the climbing.  I had mentally prepared for this eventuality as I had zero specific trail hill training for this race due to the disaster that was the WI winter.  I power hiked most of the hills, where I ran them last year.  (A great article regarding specific race training and it effects is Zach Bitter’s <http://zachbitterrunning.blogspot.com/2013/05/ice-age-trail-50-mile-race-recap.html>  (3rd place).)  A holdover benefit I received from my speed training for Mad City, similar to Zach’s, was my enhanced ability to descend the technical trails.  My descending, normally strength, was enhanced by the speed work which increased my foot turn over allowing me to “fall” down the hill more efficiently.  I had slowly picked up the pace, and by the turn at mile 22 was running pretty quick.  I was really feeling connected with the trail and my surroundings and was about to have even more time to acquaint with them.
I had been waiting for some deep hidden fatigue in my legs to slow me.  It was a driving rain/hail storm that got to me first.  Luckily I had kept my arm sleeves on and rolled them back up, right on hypothermia averted!  Then right after leaving the mile 26 aid some deep fatigue in my left quad, a hold-over from Mad City made itself known.  While descending a small hill I felt a small hot bomb explode inside my quad, ending my ability to descend quickly.  What I found truly amazing was that when this happened instead of causing my mood to sour, I suddenly began to enjoy the trail even more.  I ran mostly alone, other than passing people, till the next turn at mile 40.  During this time I reflected on just how lucky I am to be able to run in such a beautiful environment, and how truly blessed I am to have the ability to enjoy it in a manner that, as my daughter told me, allowed my heart to talk to God!  I was finding my quiet.  I was keeping good on my plan to only pass people and not be passed.  Filling my bottles shirtless, in 50 degree temps, and with 10 miles to run I had huge grin on my face that really fired up some of the volunteers.  I was suddenly ready to run hard.  I left and let my body float down the trail.
The final 10 miles to the finish were some of the most exhilarating miles I have ever run.  My quad had either gone numb due to effort, or my mind had shut the pain out, and suddenly my ability to descend returned.  I took full advantage of this and my euphoric mood to push the pace to the finish.  I ran truly feeling the trail, becoming one with my environment.  I ran hard.  I ran fast.  I danced down the descents like a child running to a playground.  I ran because I needed to, I had found my quiet on the trail.  I cannot really explain why I felt so at peace 7+ hours into a run, but 50 miles suddenly didn’t seem long enough.  During some of the flatter sections I glanced down at my watch to see that I was holding 7 min pace, and on a few of the descents had dipped into the 5 min range.  This fast running allowed me to finish the race in 53rd place.  I was never passed the entire race!
I crossed the finish smiling.  I was truly happy; not to be done, not because I had achieved some great race result or time, Just Happy!  I had found my quiet, my heart truly had its chance speak with God, and my body had a chance to be rejuvenated by nature.  I am truly thankful to Jeff Mallach, the RD, and his exceptional crew of volunteers form making the 2013 a great race, and great experience.  Thank you also to my family who supports my desire to push my body and discover just how far I can go!  Thank you also to my sponsors; Performance Running Outfitters <http://www.performancerunning.com/>  and VESPA <http://www.vespapower.com/> , your gear, support, and advice make racing and self discovery so much fun! As a side note now that my mind thinks 50 mile/ 6-8 hour runs are business as usual, it may be time to increase distance and stretch to a new challenge!
Race Gear & Nutrition
Nutrition
Pre-Race
1 VESPA <http://www.vespapower.com/>  Concentrate
1 multi vitamin, fish oil, vit D
4 Capra Flex <http://www.mtcapra.com/capraflex/>
3 Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter <http://www.justins.com/>  packets
1 Green Tea w 1 TBSP of coconut oil
1 VESPA <http://www.vespapower.com/>  JR
Race
48oz coconut water
1 VESPA <http://www.vespapower.com/>  Concentrate
4 VESPA <http://www.vespapower.com/>  JR's
3 Gels
Ginger Ale
Coke (Final 10 Miles)
7 S-Cap salt tabs
Post Race
Guinness and good food!!!!
8 Capra Flex <http://www.mtcapra.com/capraflex/>
1 multi-vitamin & fish oil
Gear
The North Face - Better than Naked shorts, & arm sleeves - Performance Running Outfitters <http://www.performancerunning.com/>  (PRO)
Hoka One One Bondi 2B - iRunFar.com <http://www.irunfar.com/>
Ultimate Direction - uno waist pack (1st 25 miles) & hand held (final 25 miles) - PRO <http://www.performancerunning.com/>
Drymax - Trail runner socks - PRO <http://www.performancerunning.com/>
Salmon S-Lab Hydro Set (2 8oz flasks) - PRO <http://www.performancerunning.com/

Monday, May 13, 2013

My First Ice Age 50 Miler!


Race Report from LPTRunner Tom Schiessl...

Tom Schiessl and Mary Gorski
I signed up for this not really sure what I was getting into. Up to this point I had run six 50K’s in the past year (my first year of ultra looniness) and figured, what the hell.
I spent a lot of time training  at Lapham, Muir trails, and Scuppornong with a variety of friends from LPTR but mainly Laura Reinders, Trish Diaz, and Jose’. The support from this group was fantastic, and the fact that Laura and Trish successfully navigated the 50K, as well as myself finishing the 50 miler (with Jose’ sweeping) is a testament to that.
Chippewa 50k with its freaky 70 degree weather and snow covered trail was my last long run prior to IA 50, but it didn’t prepare me for this. After some pre-race comments and a great rendition of the National Anthem, Jeff sent us on our way.
My plan was to run with my friend Dawn Chavez, which I did for about 18-20 miles. The time flew by as we yapped about all kinds of stuff. I had a sense we were going a bit fast, but I felt good, so I slapped that thought out of my mind. Mistake! I drew away from Dawn when I should have stayed right where I was. Idiot. I felt great and took off, thrilled to see friends on the way back, at the aid stations and road crossings. The wind kind of sucked at points, and the hail was flat out unexpected.
I bumped into the wall around mile 32 (I knew I should’ve run the 50K!). I slowed my pace but rarely walked, and really tried to eat. I trundled along until I got back to Horseriders, which is about 7 miles from the finish. From here I ate nothing, had zero urge, but oh did the ginger ale taste good. I pretty much death marched it in after that, running (shuffling) a mile, walking a ½, repeat. I hurt bad, but wasn’t about to give up. Especially with Deb closing in and giving me wonderful encouragement! As I got close enough to hear the cow bells and the crowd cheering, I picked up my pace with a surge of excitement! I was going to get this done, 50 miles! I came to the finish alone, with the place going nuts, saw my lovely wife and nearly broke into tears. The friends that ran over to congratulate me was overwhelming. Handshakes, back  slaps and hugs from everyone, you would have thought I won. And in a way, I guess I did.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Very lucky and always grateful at Ice Age...


Race report from LPTRunner Mary Gorski...

Yesterday I got to thinking about how lucky I am.

The Ice Age 50 (50 miles, 50 kilometers or a lovely little half marathon for the less compulsive among us) was held yesterday, May 11, on the trails of the Southern Kettle Moraine near Whitewater, WI.

For ultrarunners in Wisconsin, the Ice Age trail run is a ritual of spring, like opening day of baseball season for MLB fans. There are other events throughout the year but this is THE ONE, the real start of the new season.

Ice Age has the status of old home week; it’s an ultrarunners’ reunion. Veterans with 20 or more finishes under their belt toe the line with newbies doing an ultra for the first time. Icons of the sport, including those who have represented the US on international teams, come back – if not to run, then to cheer on others.

Even former race directors are on the trails, taking photos, cheering runners, and helping the current RD (Jeff Mallach) with the two million details that putting on such an event requires. 

For me, this would be my 11th finish at the IAT 50-miler. Added to that have been a few DNFs and one or two years of doing the 50K.

But while I love the race, the Ice Age race has often been one that has been accompanied by a bitof bad luck for me.

Note the emphasis on “a bit.” I’m not talking full-scale disaster; instead, just little twists in the luck continuum that add a few wrinkles that I’d rather not bother to iron out.

I hate ironing.

Getting to the tenth finish was a tough one for me. I DNFed my first attempt two years ago with a bad case of the flu. Coughing and wheezing, I called it a day at the end of the first nine-mile loop.

A few days before last year’s race my back went out without me. Three days before Ice Age I could barely walk.

But as is usually the case, more good luck than bad seemed to be with me and I slowly made my way through the course. I was a member of the 500-mile club.

This year I’ve again had some incredible luck at races, most notably in Boston where my finish time had me close to but not too close to the horrific events of theday.

I can’t think of a race in which I’ve had more luck.  I walked away unharmed while many right behind me did not.

I had been saving my Boston Marathon shirt for a special event and I couldn’t think ofanything more special than Ice Age. Yesterday was the first time that I ran in the shirt.

Every time there was a wrinkle in my good luck I looked at the shirt to remind myself that there was always more good luck than bad.

More simply– there is always more good than bad PERIOD.

As usual, there were wrinkles for me this year. Once again I was trying to get over a nasty cold (a tradition in spring that seems to go hand-in-hand with Ice Age for me). And then without any prior warning my right knee ached from the first step on the course (WTF?).

The weather… we all had that crazy wrinkle to deal with. Mother Nature was in a whacky mood yesterday. Sun and 50-degree temps, then face-stinging sleet and hail, then sun again coupled with high winds, a little rain, and then repeat. WTF again.

But even crazy Mother Nature couldn’t shake the good luck of the day. Though it had been a wet spring, most of the trail was dry (except for those lusciously slippery sections on the way to Emma Carlin).

Though my equilibrium seemed to fly out the window every time I blew my nose I managed to stay upright on the trail all day.

And the crabby knee didn’t really start to whine too loudly until the last three miles. By then this horse knew that it was close to the barn and had plenty of time to walk it in before Farmer Jeff closed the barn doors.

Eleven hours into the race I made that last turn and came in for finish No. 11.  Lucky 11, as with all of my other finishes.

This morning – the day after – I feel grateful again. Grateful for a lot of good fortune.

And I also feel… a little bit like shit.

Hell, I ran 50 miles on a gimpy knee with a head full of snot. I mean I’m grateful, and happy, and lucky and all those other very sweet things, but my body still feels like it has been run over by a truck.

But even fort hat, I am grateful. Not everyone has the opportunity to run 50 miles – even with the sniffles and a gimpy knee. Not everyone has the choice. I am grateful that I do.

Finally, some highlights:

- Relocated LPTR Cassie Scallon blowing the previous women’s course record out of the water by almost 20 minutes to win the race.

- Seeing long-time running buddy Jim (Jacques) Blanchard come in for his 25th consecutive Ice Age finish. As someone who has DNFed a few of my starts, I have incredible respect for Jim’s accomplishment. The level of respect ranks right up there with Cassie’s amazing win.

- Getting the number “123” because it was so darn easy to remember whenever I came into an aid station. “What’s your number?!” “1,2,3!!!” Loved it! Thanks Jeff.

-Celebrating the first 50-mile finish of Tom Schiessl. I remember Tom’s first night running with the Lapham Peak group about two years ago. Then, the idea of a 50-kilometer race seemed out of his range, much less 50 miles. “Really, you guys meet out here to run in the winter too?”  Thanks for joining our merry little crew Tom.

- Spending a little time on the trail with JoDeen Hettenbach, who constantly reminded me that “This is such a fantastic day, isn’t it?” regardless if it was sleeting or sunny.

- Seeing Tom and Lorraine Bunk, the king and queen of the Kettle Moraine, cheering us on in the first mile of the race. Tom has a much tougher ultra to deal with right now than most of us; it was great to see both he and his lovely bride where they belong – on the trails.

- Getting home and remembering that I had apple pie waiting for me.  Mmmmm… excellent refueling.

I am lucky. And grateful.

Time for more pie.