I need to get back into a rhythm of blogging more often like I use to. I am not sure what the distraction is?
Anyways, the Spring and Summer Seasons of Team in Training are in motion and Royal Oak, MI has an awesome team. The Spring Team started out very well, took on the weekly increasing miles, snow, and subzero temperatures. They continue to train hard and impress me more and more every day. Some of them are already talking about their next race they want to do after they complete their events in the spring. I swear I have not been serving them the Kool Aid but it seems like their addiction to running is quickly evolving. It is great to see the running community grow with runners from Team in Training.
The Summer Team had their first official group training last Saturday and about 90% of them showed up ready to brave the elements. The turnout was very impressive and I hope that it continues on. The more the merrier and it always help to have a good size group out running on Saturday mornings. I have also noticed that the Summer Team has a few speedsters in it and some experienced runners that may be knocking on Boston’s door. Now that they are taking advantage of training with a group that will help them out and hopefully the speedsters can all team up and work together. After the Summer Team complete first run of 4 or 5 miles they all seemed to be feeling good and a few of them even went a little further. Overachievers are good people in my book.
Along with coaching my own race schedule is shaping up nicely. At the present time the main goal is to complete three 50 mile races in 2009. As long as I can train well and my body feels good then this goal is obtainable. I just need to work on fueling properly and allowing myself adequate rest. The three 50 mile races are going to be; The Rocky Raccoon 50 Miler in Texas, Mohican 50 Miler in Ohio and then North Country Trail Run 50 Miler in Manistee, MI. In between I plan on mixing in some marathons and one or two 50K’s. Plus coaching at the Flying Pig Marathon and the Bayshore Marathon. If you are also running any of these races let me know or please feel free to tell me how crazy all of this sounds. Trust me I am use to it. Thanks again to everyone for all of you support.
Has it really been almost 6 months since I have blogged? Yikes! I guess my story telling engine that was fueling this blog site was turned off for some strange reason. Where do I begin? Well a lot has happened since June of 2008 so of course I will not go on and on and tell everything that has happened since then. I will give some highlights to get things moving again in hopes that I will update my blog on at least a weekly basis.
The end of June of 2008 marked the end of my coaching season for Team in Training as runners that I coached had completed their events. It was great to reconnect with the ones that I was not able to be at their actual event and hear how their day had gone. Hearing stories about fellow runner’s events is always fun and interesting at the same time.
July and August consisted of taking a break from coaching and concentrating on my own training for races that I would participate in later in the year. For those of you that have not run in Michigan in the summer we can get some really hot and humid days that really test your endurance to heat. The feeling that you may actually melt from the heat is common during the run. Plus if you run on trails be prepared to be chased by nagging black flies that love to bite. Not even all the DEET that is “medically” safe to be sprayed on a person can stop them. Many long training runs of 20 – 30 plus miles were completed in preparation of my first 50 Mile Ultra that was scheduled for September.
September had become the month of Ultra’s. How do I do this to myself? On September 6th I completed the Dances with Dirt Hell 50K and was able to shave off about 20 minutes from the previous year. During that race I was joined most of the time by another crazy runner, Sandy, who completed her 2nd ultra in spectacular fashion. I think she even enjoyed that Ultra more than the first one that she ran. On September 20th I completed my first 50 Mile Ultra in Manistee, MI, the North Country Trail run. Call it determination or pure stupidity, but while fighting a nasty cold and a rolled ankle at mile 18, I still was able to complete the event. It was not the fastest or prettiest run of my life but my goal was to cross the finish line and I was able to do just that. I did learn some things along the way and looking back actually enjoyed the experience.
October consisted of some much needed rest from running but I still ran the Detroit Marathon as planned. That was my 4th year in a row running the Detroit Marathon and another marathon under 4 hours. I had some cramping issue in my legs around mile 22 that I fought through, so I guess less training on trails is in order to prepare for the next road marathon that I run. You would think that I would get sick of running the same race 4 years in a row but there is something very magical about touring the city of Detroit and Canada on foot. I would recommend that everyone needs to do this marathon at least once in their life.
November was back to coaching for Team in Training. All of the current Spring Season runners are coming along nicely and taking on the increase in miles at a good pace. Soon the Summer Season runners will join up and we will have a full group for our group trainings. In November I also ran the annual Turkey Trot in Detroit on Thanksgiving morning. I ran it at a good pace and had fun, but since we got to the start after the race had started, I think I passed the most people I have ever passed during a race. That made it fun and amusing.
December consisted of signing up for my second 50 mile Ultra that I will run in February of 2009 and also completing the Fat Ass 50K in Pinckney, MI. We were treated to a very warm December day that allowed you to wear shorts and a short sleeve shirt but the trails were covered in over a foot of snow or water from the melting snow. Plus icy spots crept up every couple of miles preventing you from getting into a good running groove. It was a slow pace but turned into a good training run overall. Finishing that event brought my total of crazy events to 10 marathons and 6 Ultras since starting to run marathons in 2005.
The goal for 2009 is to stay healthy and complete three 50 Mile Ultras during the year. The Rocky Raccoon in February, the Mohican in June and off to Manistee, MI to get a better time at the North Country Trail Run in September. The Lord willing it will be a good year and many blessings will be given to all of us. Good luck, God Bless to all of you and stay tuned.
I was going to write a post about my experience crewing and pacing at the Mohican 100 but as I started to write I began to think that it was not truly my race. I did for the first time in my life see the sun rise, set and then rise again without a good sleep, but I was simply along for the ride. All of us in the crew and people that paced runners were there with the goal of making sure our friends safely finished the race and had fun. Once Jeff and Ken crossed that finish line we had all succeeded and all became winners. The runners did receive fancy belt buckles, they give our belt buckles instead of medals at 100 mile races, but awards were not necessary for the crew and pacers. The satisfaction of knowing your friends finished was the only award that was needed. A few things that I learned that weekend; running can be a team experience when crews and pacers are involved, Ohio does have mountains, and I never want to run a 100 mile race. If I ever do run a 100 mile race you all have my permission to throw a pie in may face or some other form of punishment. So as I started out this post I am not going to write about the actual race but share with you what Jeff wrote on his blog about the race. Jeff is a great role model, inspiration, Christian, and my number one excuse for why I got started running trails and Ultras. Yes I have used his name in vain multiple times but I am glad that I have the privilege of knowing him. Here is what he wrote:
Well, it’s been quite a while since I put an entry out here. Running has been going along well and I was pushing my training towards one major event this year – the Mohican 100 mile Trail Run. Well, the event was Saturday, June 21st and Sunday, June 22nd. The start time was 5am and we had until a 30 hour cutoff to complete the 100.33 mile course. (for details, refer to http://www.mohican100.org ) Here is, as best I can recollect, the events during the race.
We arrived at the start/finish line about 4:30am ready for some running. Running with me was my friend and co-runner, Ken Arble. He had also registered for the Mohican (against his better judgment!) and we decided to stay together as long as possible. Ken is a superior runner to me and I am tremendously grateful for all he has taught me about perseverance and guts while running. Also at the race with Ken was his friend Sara. She would be become an integral part of the team as the days played out – she would be a key part of the crew. With me was a large group – my friend and running partner, Al Durham – who I met at Team In Training in Detroit – would be crew by day, and my pacer by night when he was allowed to join up at the Fire Tower aid station at mile 60.8. His friend, Elizabeth, was our main crew leader and she and Sara would form the core of our tireless, incredibly reliable crew. Also in the crew were my father, Bud, and my older sister, Cyndy. Cyndy also brought with her her three boys, Dustin, age 18 who would pace for about 14 or 15 miles in the night, Jacob, 15, who would be hanging out with her husband Bryan and her youngest son, Michael, who I believe is 6.
Leg 1 – Landoll’s Castle – 4.9 miles – This leg was on dirt and paved roads and was exceptionally hilly. Ken and I paced along quite easily, trying hard to not start out too fast. Yikes, tough to do when you are jacked up on 2100 miles of training and ready to release that energy! We would also note a trend – the exceptionally hilly part. While this race is in Ohio, friends, Ohio is NOT all FLAT. (not even close over in the Ashland County area) So, we ran through the first leg and saw Rick Armes from the Running Fit Ultramarathon Team – nice to see Rick, and also met Tom Taylor, a heck of a runner from Northville. (gee, Tom, is that Northville township?) Also saw Matt Mistor, a guy I have met and enjoyed running with in a number of races over the last year or two. We finished the first leg and saw our first crew, Dad, Dustin, and Cyndy at Landoll’s castle. It was good to see them.
Leg 2 – Rock Point – 5.10 miles – Again, more roads and a number of arduous climbs to get to Rock Point. Little did we know at this point that Rock Point would become a tough to reach spot, especially when coming from the Bridle Staging Area aid station. This went along pretty well and we got to the aid station to find Al, Elizabeth, and Sara. We also were a bit surprised to find we were WAY ahead of schedule. ( I think Ken was racing Tom, who was in his age group) Not really the scenario we wanted (being tremendously ahead of schedule), but we were feeling good and kept rolling. We refilled our water bottles, took some S!Caps and rolled.
Leg 3 – South Park – 4.30 miles – No crew access here, we had our first experience with Mighty Mo and the hills it held in store for us for the day. Incredible climbs followed by brutal descent after brutal descent. Seemed to be some really good peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at South Park, of which I had three. Ken seemed to be doing well, but we were still trucking along keeping up with Tom Taylor. Probably not in our best interest as I know for a fact that Tom was a MUCH more experienced 100 mile runner than I was. (this was my first 100 mile run)
Leg 4 – Fire Tower – 4.30 miles – Our first visit and climb to the Fire Tower. After loads of up and down, up and down, we had a final long drawn out climb under some power lines up to the Fire Tower aid station. Pace was still pretty vicious – my lingering cold from the previous week had been having me coughing and hacking up stuff all this way. Most notable in this leg was the last climb to the Fire Tower, which would become critical later in the race. At the aid station, we saw everyone – Al, Elizabeth, Sara, Dad, Cyndy, Dustin. Great to see everyone and our first drop bag location. We managed to refuel, plug in some new S!Caps, have a few cookies, and make our way out of the aid station an HOUR ahead of schedule. (not good, not good)
Leg 5 – Covered Bridge – 2.50 miles – A short leg and a very humorous experience. There was a bunch of us running along and, in typical trail fashion, we came upon a water crossing with TWO bridges. One was relatively new, the other old, shoddy, falling apart, and didn’t seem to go anywhere. We all immediately stopped, suspicious that the ‘new’ looing bridge was and obvious ploy to get us to go the wrong way and we tried to figure out how to use the old, crappy bridge. What a predictable bunch. This was a relatively short leg and was pretty simple. We made it to the next aid station, Covered Bridge, with no incidents. Covered Bridge does not allow crew access and happens to be ‘Grand Central Station’, or the aid station we would visit 5 times throughout the race. At this aid station was a big tent staffed by interns from the Cleveland Institute of Podiatry – super folks I would later learn! Again, fueled up and headed out, still keeping our ‘stupid’ fast pace.
Leg 6 – Hickory Ridge – 5.20 miles – Ugly, ugly, ugly climb! We ran for quite a ways along a ridge where, if you looked left or right, there appeared to be a dropoff of about 600 feet. I for one, am scared of heights, so this was NOT my favorite leg. We climbed up and down, up and down from ridge to ridge for the entire 5.20 miles and came to the Hickory Ridge aid station. (no crew access) At this point, Ken and I were starting to feel the effects of our hellatious pace – we weren’t worn out, but could tell the terrain was having it’s effect on us. We needed to slow down.
Leg 7 – Pine Run Grist Mill – 6.80 miles – Brutal. Winding our way back and forth, back and forth, similar to our experience on Hickory Ridge, we climbed probably three ridges in succession. Worse than climbing the ridges was coming down. Very tough on the feet, very hard on the quads. We were still keeping pace with Tom, but starting to fall back a bit. Ken and I got separated – my right quad started cramping and I hurried the last mile or so to the aid station to get some sodium to prevent it (I was out of S!Caps in my pack). I got to Grist Mill a little ahead of Ken. We regrouped at Grist Mill. We talked with Sara, Elizabeth, Al, Cyndy, Dustin, Dad – we were plain flat going too fast. We decided then and there (at mile 33.10) that we needed to slow down or we would self destruct. Turns out later that it was a GREAT decision. Up til’ now, the weather had been relatively good – cloudy, about 65-70 degrees, low humidity. However, as we were leaving Grist Mill, the sun came out. We headed out at a decidedly slower pace (intentionally) and made good time out of the aid station.
Leg 8 – Covered Bridge – 5.20 miles – What a bizarre leg. I surmised that, this leg, having to run it later on that night in the dark, could present a REAL problem. We headed back into the woods to head STRAIGHT up a large hill. (ok, I’m from Michigan – it looked like a darn mountain to me!) We climbed up that hill, then the real bummer – the trail came down into the Mohican State Park and ran RIGHT PAST the cottage I had rented. How hard is it to run past your air-conditioned cottage with a bed, shower, and refrigerator full of cold drinks!!!!! Then the bizarre part – we ran along this trail that was right next to the river – except about 15 feet above it. The trail was a whopping 12-18 inches wide as this point, with a steep embankment on the right and covered with a tangle of roots, rocks, and other trail obstacles. This would prove treacherous on loop 2. We popped out of the woods onto a State Park driveway through one of the primitive camping areas on our way to the covered bridge, except this time, we got to run THROUGH the river. Oh joy. Not the end of the world as it was very hot out and the water was a welcome relief. We then arrived at the Covered Bridge again and refueled with watermelon, water, CLIP2, S!Caps, and PBJ. Ken was scarfing down some turkey lunchmeat. We then headed off to the most non-running loop of them all.
Leg 9 – Covered Bridge – 4.00 miles – Purple Loop – 42.30 miles total – By the time we would arrive back at Covered Bridge, we would have run 42.30 miles totaled. We also met a cool lady from Brighton, MI named Dusty who is an assessor. We ran with her til’ mile 52, then lost track. I understand she finished – super as it was her first hundred as well! Back to this leg – lots of criss crossing of a strange little stream with lots of rocks, roots, then a hand over hand climb of about 20 feet up a gnarly old set of tree roots designed like a rock climbing wall. We then climbed a bit further (it was HOT at this point) to place ourselves on top of what looked like a dam. (yep, take all the dam pictures you want on the dam tour) We circled around for a while, then came to some really cool looking falls and noticed that the only way down was this treacherous looking set of sandstone steps/footholds carved in the rock wall. Yikes. A good 50 foot fall if you made a mistake. We made it down and wondered what that was all about on our way BACK to Covered Bridge.
Leg 10 – Bridle Staging Area – 2.70 miles – Actually, a relatively short, uneventful leg. Ken and I were starting to slow at this point, but still had good spirits. The cloud cover was coming back and things were looking a bit dark outside. The good news with the cloud cover was that it cooled things down about 15 degrees. This would become a problem not too much later.
Leg 11 – Rock Point – 7.20 miles – This had to be the toughest leg of the course and we would have to run it again just past mile 83. As it was, after this running of the leg, we would be at 52.2 miles. The leg started out as a relatively flat bridle trail. No problem! We then started to encounter climb, descent, climb, descent, climb, descent. It was almost like the doggone thing was schizophrenic. Ken and I didn’t notice it getting cooler during the entire leg, but we noticed when we heard the thunder start. At about mile 4.5, we were dumped out onto a little paved road (still hilly as all get out) and we started making our way up. By this time, the wind was gusting very strong, so strong that I nearly jumped out of my skin when a branch large enough to crush a car fell to the ground about 25 feet away from Ken and I. It then started to rain. The rain was welcome as it cooled us off, until we got back onto the trail. The rain didn’t make it shoe-sucking (thankfully) but it made the trail pretty slick and the downhills got worse. The parting shot from this trail was the last climb to the Rock Point aid station – probably a good 6% grade up a paved road and about a 200-300 foot hike. Not really what you were looking for after the brutalization that just took place. When I arrived, my family and crew were there. I was pretty spent and needed a boost – some different type of food as the GU packets and CLIP2 and pbj sandwiches weren’t cutting it. The Rock Point folks (bless their hearts) were whipping up instant soup with probably 2000-3000mg of sodium per serving! Awesome, just what the idiot trail runner ordered! I know my Dad and my sister Cyndy were really worried at this point as I looked awful (felt awful too). I finished my soup, changed my clothes (amazing how your modesty vanishes after running 52 miles), Cyndy helped me change my shoes and socks (Cyndy, next time, don’t smell the darn shoes that come off my feet !!!!) and Ken and I were off again. Blisters were still not a big problem, other than the one that I had fixed at Covered Bridge about mile 40. Onward and upward. We were buoyed up by the fact that at mile 60.8 – just two more aid stations- and our pacers would jump in and provide some much needed encouragement.
Leg 12 – South Park – 4.30 miles – 56.50 miles total – If I thought this was full of tough climbs the first time through, I had no idea how hard it would be approaching 56 miles. We decided to recoup some energy at the outset of this leg (I really needed to, bless Ken for just walking for about a mile and a half). I really started to perk up after the soup and, while tired, we still managed pretty good time through this leg. We managed to make it through this one mostly unscathed, other than the physical toll.
Leg 13 – Fire Tower – 4.30 miles – 60.80 miles – As pointed out earlier, lots of up and down. I was still drinking and eating pretty well at this point, and the prospect of picking up your pacer(s) was definitely driving Ken and I onward. As mentioned earlier, the last climb to the fire tower was a brutal one upon approaching 61 miles. It gave your quads and calves a nice, warm feeling. (ha ha, also known as BURNING) Still managing to eat and drink at this point quite well, so things hadn’t broken down completely. Showing up at the aid station revealed everyone from our crew there. Dustin and Al were suited up and ready to run. Al has been a running partner and good friend for about a year and a half now. Dustin is my 18 year old nephew and is a terrific runner, albeit for 1 mile or a 5k. After more fueling up (more soup!!!!), the four of us hit the trail. Still in pretty good spirits, my Dad and sister were looking a little more relaxed (less concerned) than they were at mile 52 when I departed. Elizabeth, as always, was a supreme trooper and so was Sara.
Leg 14 – Covered Bridge – 2.50 miles – 63.30 miles total – We managed to move along quite well given our new motivation with our pacers in the crew. Dark was approaching quickly and Ken and I did not have our headlamps yet (they were in our drop bags at Covered Bridge), so we were interested in making all possible haste towards our next aid station. My feet were still in decent shape – I had mostly started ignoring the pain emanating from them.
Leg 15 – Hickory Ridge – 5.30 miles – 68.60 miles total – I thought running along that really high ridge with the unbelievable drops on both sides would be less frightening in the dark, however, knowing the drop was there made it so the dark didn’t help. Worse, it was foggy due to the humidity from the rain. This limited the effectiveness of our headlamps, but we weren’t going to quickly so it wasn’t the end of the world. Strangely enough, for me anyways, the climbs became less grueling than the downhills. The pounding on my feet and my lack of planning (should have worn two pairs of socks) was starting to rub the balls of my feet a bit raw. Hickory Ridge was cool when we came in – they had a generator going, Christmas lights strung up, and I thought they had some music going. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but every aid station the workers were incredible. How they managed to maintain a cheerful attitude and stay so wonderfully helpful all day and night is beyond me, but my hat is OFF to them! However, getting to Hickory Ridge also meant a signal of the start to Pine Run Grist Mill leg and the second most brutal leg, in my humble opinion.
Leg 16 – Pine Run Grist Mill – 6.70 miles – Up, up and away! Wish I was Superman at this point, but I felt more like Gumby – wire filled, soft rubbery body that wouldn’t stand up on it’s own. Did I mention my buddy and pacer Al? Al is a unique distance runner – he’s built like a linebacker, except stronger. Anytime I would sit down at an aid station or next to the trail and needed to get up, I had my Al elevator – I weigh 185 and am 6’2”, but Al would grab me under the armpits and just yank me on my feet like I was a rag doll! Anyway, we continued plugging along. This leg had a horrendous series of downhills that would prove incredibly taxing on my quads and my rapidly deteriorating feet – they felt like raw hamburger, except more painful. The group managed to get a bit in front of me approaching the aid station (I was having serious quad trouble – not cramps, just sore, sore, sore!) Everybody awake in the crew was quite alarmed when they saw I was not with Al, Dustin, and Ken. I arrived about a minute or two later and had to sit for a while. (I know, hard to get moving) My wonderful sister Cyndy brought me some of the most wonderful potato soup I’ve ever had – seriously, the Grist Mill folks had made this potato soup with chunks of potato that were HUGE! After 3 cups of soup, I started to feel a little bit human and started to assess the situation. Ken had adopted a power walking strategy, but I had not practiced power walking. The technique was slowly killing me and I didn’t feel right asking Ken to slow up. Against my better judgment, I had a talk with my friend, Ken, and told him I couldn’t keep up. I would finish, I just couldn’t keep up. The problem we had was we were down to Al as our pacer – the last 14+ miles had cooked Dustin. Ken, trooper that he is, continued on with the thought that if anything happened, we wouldn’t be far behind him on the trail. I had a serious talk with my Dad, Cyndy, Al and Elizabeth – I really wasn’t sure how much further I could push my battered body. I did mention to my Dad that “darn it, I have less than a marathon left – I can crawl that if I need to!” My Dad looked at me rather strangely as the remaining 24 or 25 miles were tough. My biggest fear that was looming was doing Bridle Staging Area to Rock Point one more time. I didn’t know if I could get my legs to work the entire way. In the end, I got up and pressed on, with Al at my side.
Leg 17 – Covered Bridge – 5.20 miles – 80.50 miles total – You know, when I started this race, 5 miles was a distance I thought was pretty darn short. Now I might as well have been trying to run to California. It turns out that it was a fantastic thing that Al was along with me on this leg – I believe he saved my bacon more than once. We started the leg with a horrific climb – big frickin’ surprise there, eh? It’s funny, too, what your mind comes up with after running more than 75 miles of tough, tough terrain. We were climbing up the first big hill (the first of 3, I think) and we saw a headlamp coming at us – a lady we had seen off and on throughout the day who had run Western States and Badwater was coming at us. We asked if everything was ok (like we could give assistance!) and she said everything was fine, that she and the three other guys weren’t sure if they were on the right trail because they hadn’t seen any of the lime powder arrows marking the way. We were perplexed as we had just seen an arrow, but let her go as she didn’t seem to be in any danger. We then found 2 more arrows in succession, and never found three other guys. We’re thinking she was a bit looped. Again, this loop went past the cottage – REALLY hard to run past your bed, shower, and refrigerator after running more than 75 miles. We ran along the river again, this time in the dark. I apparently fell asleep while running along as Al caught me and asked me what was wrong. Ok, take a break. Approaching Covered Bridge, I had my biggest mental challenge yet. My quads felt like knives had been inserted, my feet were sore beyond belief. I had talked myself into quitting at mile 80.50, when I started talking to my pacer about an incident at work. There is this guy at work who fancies himself a real athlete, yet is quite the opposite. He had claimed to me some pretty fanciful race numbers that were in the realm of possibility for someone who was a great athlete, but not someone who ran every once in a while. He also informed me that he did not think I was capable of running 100 miles. Once I told Al that, he made a pretty loud comment (we were walk/running through a campground at 3am) about no f’in way were we quitting now. I started to get the juice and feel the same way, so I made a 180 degree turn in my claim to finishing. I told myself to just survive through Bridle Staging to Rock Point one more time and the last 9.5 miles or so would be a breeze! Arriving at Covered Bridge, we saw a couple of guys who had passed us on the trail. The guy with the race number (apparently one was his pacer) was sitting at a table by himself carrying on quite a conversation with himself. He was gone, mentally. I sat down in the black hole chair and had a peach, some soup (which I spilled on my arm), then Al and I hopped up and moved on out!
Leg 18 – Bridle Staging Area – 2.70 miles – 83.20 miles total – A relatively short leg, but some pretty good climbing exercise in this one. Al and I motored along as best we could, but the difference was our spirits were high. I wasn’t as concerned about Bridle Staging Area to Rock Point as I had been at mile 75.2. It seemed like I could conquer it, but now the question was how much time did we have left? We arrived at Bridle Staging Area and I managed a few jokes. I think Dad was relieved to see me feeling much better than at Grist Mill. We had some more soup (magical stuff, you know), tried to fix up feet, clothes, etc, ditched my long sleeve shirt as it was warm enough now, then made our way out onto what I considered the end of the race.
Leg 19 – Rock Point – 7.20 miles – 90.40 miles total – Repeat earlier in the day but slow the pace down to a crawl and you have it. I found it surprising that the climbs continued to be not too bad, but the descents were getting to be harder and harder and harder. One advantage this time – no thunder, lightning, rain or hail! I stopped after each river crossing to squeeze the excess water out of my socks. (there were three river crossings) I’m not sure it helped, but mentally it made me feel better. I continued to power up the hills and struggle down them. We saw a gentleman that we had seen coming in to Grist Mill as we were leaving that had lost control of his ability to stop. He had a pacer with him now (a lady named Linda) who was a volunteer, but we had concerns about him. We helped pick him up out of the brush where he had crashed at one point. We traded passing them a few times, then managed to stay in front of them for quite a while. Coming in to Rock Point we saw my sister Cyndy on the road we would have to climb to the aid station. She gave a ‘Woo Hoo’ and I ‘Woo Hoo’d’ back. We traded silly sounds as I was coming down the trail – how wonderful it was to see my sister standing there. Apparently, according to Elizabeth, my Dad seemed to relax quite a bit when he heard my older sister and I acting like idiots! He knew I was closer to normal! Cyndy directed us up the hill (she said she was tired of climbing that stupid hill and I don’t blame her!). Everyone was there, including Elizabeth and Sara. What a sight for sore eyes and the aid station folks were great. We had just a brief bit of food (we were sick of eating and drinking at this point). The same guy who couldn’t stop came crashing into the tent (literally), so I helped him up off the ground and into a chair. His pacer stopped to address a blister. We hit the trail and shortly after, he blazed past us. We were moving again and less than 10 miles from the finish! (at 100.33 miles)
Leg 20 – Landoll’s Castle – 5.10 miles – 95.50 miles total – We had made our escape from Rock Point and made it about a mile when Tom, the guy who crashed into the tent, went flying by us. Just then his pacer (Linda) went flying after him. We didn’t think too much about it, but as we crested the next hill, I watched him take a header down the hill and land head first, then slide in the dirt. His pacer hustled over to him and Al and I ambled over as quickly as we could. He was unconscious from the blow to the head and there was a tremendous amount of blood on the side of his face. Al whipped out his cell phone from his pack and tried calling Elizabeth, with no luck. He handed the phone to me (I had sat down next to Tom as I couldn’t crouch anymore) and I kept calling Elizabeth. Al started back to Rock Point aid station to see if the EMT we had chatted with when we were there was still there. Meanwhile, Linda and I started assessing Tom. I got through to Elizabeth and they were almost to the finish line in the car, but between her and Sara, I convinced them to send an EMT back to where we were. Tom kept fading in and out – Linda had his head in her hands and I gave her some gauze out of my blister repair kit to try and stop the flow of blood. I focused my attention on keeping him conscious and alert by asking him questions and telling him not to close his eyes. We managed to keep him talking and he started to come out of it a bit. He wanted to sit up, so I grabbed his hands and hauled him up. I then found he was pointed down the hill, so for him to stay upright meant I would have to continue holding on to his hands. He claimed he felt fine – I said you might feel fine, but you look awful! (Linda, his pacer, laughed and agreed) After what seemed like an eternity, we heard the siren of the approaching EMTs. Al came huffing and puffing back (keep in mind, Al had run 30 miles as well – no easy feat in that terrain). Just as the EMT’s were coming down the road, I started and said ‘I have to get up! If they see me on the ground next to him, they might not be sure who to work on as I look almost as bad as him!’ Everyone laughed at that – I think we needed it. I went and talked to the EMTs – they were really, really nice. After relaying what had happened, I asked if it would be ok if Al and I continued driving our battered and beaten bodies to the finish line. They said no problem. Al and I were off again and we figured we had lost at least 40 minutes (no problem, would rather miss my buckle to help someone!) and it would be close but we could still make it. About a mile later, this red pickup approached us. I was a little concerned when the guy stopped right next to us. He shouted “Are you number 63?” “Yes” I replied. “The race director wanted me to find you and your pacer – he wanted to thank you guys for helping that runner who was down.” Al said “it would be great if you could get us 40 minutes of time back so my friend can get his finisher’s buckle”. The guys said he would see what he could do and drove off. He came back a few minutes later and said “Guys, you got your 40 minutes and the race director wants me to follow you guys back to make sure nothing happens to you!” Great, an escort! Al and I were thinking this was pretty cool at this point. We hadn’t expected to get the time back, but it was very welcome! We figured the next aid station, Landoll’s Castle, would be gone by the time we got there. Were we surprised. The race director himself was there and shook our hands and thanked us for helping the runner, Tom. I thanked him for the time and asked if there was anything else we could do to help him. He said “I just want you to get out of here, cross that finish line and show em’ what you’re made of!” Yes sir!
Leg 21 – Finish Line – 4.83 miles – 100.33 miles total – Talk about walking on clouds! We felt pretty good at that point and we got to see LOTS of country road, albeit hilly, hilly country road. We were at a good strong walk at this point and just couldn’t move any faster. (Al probably could have, but I couldn’t) We still had our escort dude behind us and we got to meet some dogs. We turned ultimately onto a dirt road that we HOPED was our last climb and descent before the finish. It was a killer! On top of things, it was a one lane, dirt road and we had multiple cars going by. We made it to the peak and saw a killer down hill. About halfway down (walking, grunting, groaning) I blew past Al running! I said “Beats the hell out of taking forever to get down this stupid hill!” Apparently Al agreed wholeheartedly because he tucked in behind me and we trucked all the way to where it was relatively flat. We then resumed our slower pace. Al had moved in front of me and I said “Dude, you smell like a moose. I guess that means I must smell at least 3 times worse!” We both got a good chuckle out of that, then we started looking for the finish line. A guy going past was a runner (in one of the cars) and told us at the crest of the dirt road hill, we only had 7/10ths of a mile left. He was probably right, but after 99 miles of running, I was cursing a bit and so was Al. We wanted to be finished! Finally, we saw the ‘promised land’ – the finish line! We had to run past the finish line on the road, then back down the driveway. I said “Well, Al, we might as well look like runners going in!” So we picked up the pace to a blistering (no pun intended) 12 minutes per mile! AS we approached the finish line, we could hear the race director talking about us over the microphone to the crowd at the awards ceremony, about how we stopped to help a fellow runner. The crowd was cheering for us, our families and friends were there and it was a great moment. One of the race staff guys came out and ran with us to guide us to the line. WE did it!! Finished the Mohican 100!!! Waiting at the finish also were all four EMT’s – they came over and said “we want to shake your hands – you guys were great and we want to thank you for your help!” I was then called over to the podium where the assistant race director started talking about me to the crowd, and about how important it was to help your fellow runner and he gave me a Race Director’s special award (a cool North Face backpack, some socks and other cool stuff!). I was totally surprised! (so was Al, he was awarded an official race shirt which is HUGELY coveted!) The guy then asked if there was anything he could get for me – I said “Well, I’d really like to go over to the podiatry tent because my feet REALLY hurt!” He laughed and took me over and put me at the front of the line. People I didn’t know were coming over and congratulating me. I guess Al and I never really thought about that part – sure, I could have come in late and not gotten an award I had busted my butt for – my belt buckle – but that buckle is not worth potentially someone’s life or health. We had some great pictures with friends, family, everybody. It’s all a blur for me now. After the excitement died down and I had my feet fixed, Elizabeth and I and Al hobbled over to the car, headed back to our cottage to take a nap. That’s when Elizabeth informed me – “Jeff, you need to be first in the shower. I would recommend you take a LONG time in there and use LOTS of soap!” She was laughing when she was telling me – apparently, I smelled really, really bad.
That was the 29 hours and 13 minutes I spent running my first 100 mile race. Some points to note. First, I didn’t do this on my own. 2,177 miles of training runs with friends, partners, family members. My crew – Elizabeth, Sara, my Dad, my sister and her family. The race director and race volunteers – saints and just holy cow great folks. My running partner, Ken – 75 miles together and Ken does NOT let me quit. Pacers – Dustin, the 14 miles was more helpful than you can know. Al – dude, you went the distance with me. This was definitely a life experience and one I will think about for years to come.
Second – would I ever do this again? If you had talked to me on Sunday, probably not. I know there is not another 100 mile run this year, but yes, I think I’d do it again. It is probably the biggest adventure I have ever been on.
Cheers and thanks for reading. I’ve got to have a beer now.
I know that I do not post as much as I use to but since I was tagged by Motown Runner Girl, I will accept and create a post on my blog.
Copy questions to your blog and answer them. Tag five people. Let them know on their blogs. Names of the people I tagged are at the bottom of this post.
1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
10 years ago I was not a runner. I played sports like soccer, football, lacrosse and softball. I thought I was in shape and an athlete back then. Now that I have become a runner I truly feel like I am in much better shape than I was 10 years ago.
2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?
Best = It is hard to pick one. As of now my best race experience would be the Martian Marathon on April 6th 2008. I got my best marathon time of 3:58 and I was not even really trying to get a certain time. I learned that day to always have fun at a race, run hard, and not let the clock stress you out.
Worst = This one would have to be the Chicago Marathon in 2007. It was my worst marathon time due to the unusual October weather that we received. 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 100% humidity makes for a slow day. Plus being forced to walk the last 10 miles did not help either. I chalked this day up as another long training run.
3. Why do you run?
There are many reasons why I run. I run to be with friends, family, enjoy the outdoors, coach, run for TNT Memorial and Honored Heroes, learn from fellow runners, see how far I can push myself, stay in shape, to feel like a kid again and run in the rain, explore, and use the gifts that God has given me.
4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you’ve been given about running?
Best = Never try anything new on race day, keep moving forward, and always try to have fun.
Worst = Every mile that you run has to be ran hard. I learned this can take the fun out of running and make you not look forward to it.
5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.
My middle name is Luck. Too bad it only applies part of the time.
These are the people I’m tagging:
AJ – Little Miss Runner Pants
Robert from Faithful Soles
Kellie K – You need to create a blog and share your experiences.
Picker pushes or plants that had thorns were everywhere! My legs looked like I fought a cat and lost. At least I did not realize how bad they were until I was done. The hills were monsters. Switchbacks all over the place and I swear it took about 20 minutes to climb some of those hills and finally get to the top. Starting out at the bottom of a hill and looking up the trails to see people way up at the top made you ask “how did they get up there?”. Going down the hills were fun and fast. Just turning the corners on the switchbacks on the way down could make you meet your demise if you were not careful. Those were some huge cliffs! I have to give the people that train on those hills everyday lot so credit because we have nothing like that around here to train on. Even the monstrous Dutton Rd. hill in Rochester, MI does not compare to the hills on the Gnaw Bone course.
How quickly they have added up in what seems like a short period of time. I was always warned that as you get older time would move by faster and it definitely has. On Saturday April 26th I ran my 9th marathon at the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, TN. My first marathon was in 2005 and I am still in disbelief that in less than 4 years I have this many marathons under my belt. Most people run one and that is it. I guess I really got hooked and went off the deep end. Maybe that explains why I am the first one to jump off the bridge or try something daring?
I have individual memories from each marathon that I have run but this one will be very special to me since I was able to run it with some of my Spring 2008 TNT Runners. Plus I was there to see my other runners finish and hear their stories about the event. TNT coaches cannot go to every event that your runners are training for, so I felt very honored and privileged not only to go, but to also run the entire marathon with a few of them. Our plan was for the four of us to stick together for as long as possible and have me keep them at around a 10 minute pace. Rain was in full effect before the race but it did not dampen out sprits. Garbage bags were the fashionable top of choice to stay dry as we waited for the event to start. About 20 minutes before the event was going to start the rain did slow down and eventually stop so we would be blessed with good running weather. Most of the time we had cool temperatures, a cool breeze at some points of the course and an overcast sky at times. You could not ask for more perfect running weather. The fan support on the course was amazing and it was really fun to interact with them. I had ran this marathon in 2006 so I had an idea on what to expect but the course did not seem as hilly as it was back then. Either better training or I think it was that I had some great people to run with this time around. After about 10 miles one member of our group dropped off, but did end up finishing. Then the three of us made our way around the course at a good pace and had many laughs along the way. Another good note is that the aid stations volunteers were awesome at filling up water bottles if you asked them. That made it really convenient to have water whenever you needed it. As we got closer to the finish line we began seeing more and more TNT Runners and cheered them on since they still had about 6 or less miles to go. You could feel what they were feeling by some of the death looks you received back. All of us have had times when we cannot even give back a wave when people cheer and I felt bad for them because I know how that feels. After mile 25 our pace picked up because we knew the finish was near and even the last quarter of mile turned into a short race with what energy that we had left. The final time was 4:29:30. Mission accomplished. Three of us stuck together for the entire race and two of my first time marathon runners got great times. I am very proud of them that they beat my first marathon time by over 30 minutes. Now the real question is will they sign up for another marathon and get hooked like I am. This coach recommends that if they do another one to do a fall marathon and not go crazy like I have with my running. But if they do follow in my footsteps I will have a comfortable padded room waiting for them at the psychiatric ward.
Congratulations to all of the TNT Runners that completed the 2008 Country Music Marathon and good luck to all of the TNT Runners that are on their way to Vancouver for their marathon.
Yes it appears that Spring is finally here in Michigan. We have had over a week of no snow and warmer temperatures that allow the normal running apparel to join in for a run. Another sign of Spring that I noticed is that I am greeted by singing birds in the morning on my morning runs. They could be telling this crazy person to get back into the house, but they sound like they are singing to me. After tons of cold weather running I actually have some proof that it all paid off. In my past two races I achieved new personal records or PR’s.
The first one was at the Corktown 4 mile race on March 16th. This race starts near the old Detroit Tiger Stadium goes about 2 miles into the city and then back to finish in front of the old Michigan Central Train station. Which in my opinion, is yet another building in Detroit that should have been kept up due to its amazing architecture. It is a fun race that is ran before the annual Corktown St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It is a little odd running a race where the spectators have been drinking alcohol since early that morning, but it is a good time. Due do too much socializing a group of us started at the very front of the start area and I got sucked into the fast group of people. My first mile was a 6:50 mile which is a little to fast for me. After getting settled into a better pace I finished with a time of 29:53. That is an average pace of 7:28 per mile.
The second PR came on April 6th at the Martian Marathon. It was my 8th marathon and my 1st marathon of 2008. I did not follow the normal taper plan, that seems to be a new bad habit, and ran 14 miles the day before since my TNT Spring Team was running their 20 and 13 mile training runs. Coaching and helping my team get ready for their events is very important to me so I did my best to help them and run as little as possible. The marathon started off very well. We had temperatures in the low 40’s and were running an average pace of about 8:10. The pace was faster than normal but it felt good so we kept moving on. The miles rolled on quickly or at least it felt that way. Around mile 16 the average pace slipped to about 8:40 as the fatigue was setting in, but we still has good temperatures in the 50’s. After mile 18 I was told to take off on my own since I was still running strong. I was doing well until my average pace slipped to about 10 minute miles after mile 22 as that “wall” started to build itself in front of me. I did my best to push through and walked a little more than I should of as the miles from the day before started to catch up to me. I am very curious how well I would have done if I had rested properly. After passing mile 24 I knew that achieving my goal of being under 4 hours was very possible as long as I pushed as hard as I could. When I saw the finish line I used all that I had left and crossed the finish line with a time of 3:58:18. That is an average pace of 9:06 per mile. I had achieved my goal of a sub 4 hour marathon and improved my overall marathon time by about 8 minutes. What a great start to my 2008 season! I hope that the improvement continues and the good race times continue to roll on. As always thank you to everyone for their support and guidance.
Yes this is a person that has lived their entire life in Michigan complaining about how long this winter has been. It simply feels like winter is sticking around forever. A typical Michigan winter consists of snow that sticks around for a couple of weeks, then we get a warm spell, then the snow melts, and we have the typical grey skies and gray ground. But this winter the snow came and it has never left. It sticks around, we get more snow, and even lots of ice this winter. These lovely winter conditions has made running very interesting. Slipping, sliding, and very slow running times have become all too familiar. On the positive end running in snow is suppose to make you a stronger runner, plus when I have found some clear surfaces to run on I still feel like I have some speed left. We will have to wait until the Corktown 4 mile race to find out. Hopefully it is a little warmer that day and we have smooth surfaces to run on.
On the coaching side of things the Spring Team is doing awesome. They are on their way to running their long run of 15 miles this weekend. I am so proud of them and love watching their progress. It is rewarding to watch runners as they progress and become more confident as their training rolls on. Plus the Summer Team is a few weeks into their training and also doing very well. Both teams have had to contend with running in the snow and are looking like superstars on the streets of Royal Oak. Before we know it they will be crossing the finish line at their events. If you see us running in Royal Oak or on a field trip out at Stony Creek Metro Park be sure to yell Go Team!
Since I have lived in Michigan all of my life you think I would not whine about winter. The freezing temperatures, the snow, and the ice. Well honestly I have had enough winter for this year. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the first couple snow falls and the challenge or running through the snow, but after about a month I am all set. If it were my choice winter would be about a month long. Feel free to extend Fall or Spring, but I am ready for the snow to be gone and the temperatures to stay at least 40 for an extend period of time. Last winter I will admit that we were spoiled by it being very mild up to the end of December. I can recall running in shorts all the way past Christmas. But I will stay positive as always because I know warmer temperatures will be here before I know it. Plus I have heard the running in the snow and cold makes you stronger.
Enough of the venting and now some good news. My Spring Season Team in Training runners are doing awesome! They are running in the cold, the snow, and working their way up to longer runs. This past weekend they did 10 miles as their long run and everyone did great. Running with them makes me think back to when I trained for my first marathon and knowing that I had to run 10, 11, 12, miles etc.. the next morning would stress me out. Would I make it? How far would I have to walk? I hope my runners are not obsessing about the mileage like I did. Well at least they are not showing any fear or stress to me. They are doing great and tackling the long runs like they have done them before. They are making this coach very proud.
Since I have not posted in awhile I should give some personal running updates. The 50K in December went very well. Even though there was snow and ice I hung in there and actually shaved 12 minutes off of my first 50K time. I am still amazed that after swearing that I would never run more than 26.2 miles almost a year ago I have ran two Ultramarathons and I am registered for my first 50 Mile race this Fall. I think I have really fallen off of the deep end! The Witchy Wolf Run on January 19th was an adventure to say the least. The temperature was below zero at the 6:30PM start. We ran 15 miles on snow covered roads and trails. Had to cross over a stream on a stick bridge that I fell in and I obtained a soaked left foot, and learned that chewing on the spouts of the water bottles breaks up the ice so that you can drink some water. Plus I one again was able to realize that you still sweat in sub zero temperature and then your sleeves freeze, so moving your arms can be a challenge. All in all it was a beautiful course but next year you can count me out if it is that cold again. That race will definitely be a register on race day event. Just another memorable experience of craziness and proof that I have a low IQ.
Dashing through the snow, with my Brooks Cascadias on my feet, praying not to fall. Okay so I admit that I am not a song writer but since out first real snow fall of this winter season here in Michigan running has become a little more interesting. Two weekends ago we received some snow and ice, but the trails were actually easier to run because the little snow that we had covered up the dirt of the trail. Running on the sidewalks was more like skating without skates on and praying that you did not fall flat on your face. I guess that is why you do your shorter runs around your house so you do not have to craw that far back to safety when it is icy out. This past weekend we were blessed with over 6 inches of snow during the night which made Sunday morning my toughest trail run yet. Yes crazy me, and a few others, braved the trails again. I have to admit the snow made for some beautiful scenery but running through it is rough! After completing the normal 10 mile loop my legs were screaming from plowing through the snow and I seriously felt like I had just ran 30 miles and not 10. It took us a little over 2 hours to complete 10 miles on the trails thanks to the snow. Along the way I was told that running through all of that snow was good training or something like that.
Well currently I am on schedule with my training for my next 50K on December 29th. Two Sundays ago I completed my longest run before the event of 28 miles and I have to say I did not feel like death afterwards. So now I am currently attempting to properly taper before the event which for me seems to be very hard to follow. The temptation of running more miles than I am scheduled is a big mental game for me that hopefully one day I will master. Now all I need is for a warm spell to melt the snow by December 29th so that we do not have to contend with that obstacle. But it is winter in Michigan so all of this snow melting by then is wishful thinking that more than likely will not come true.
Two good quotes that were passed on to me recently that I wanted to share. Do they sound like someone you may know?
"Any idiot can run a marathon. It takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultramarathon."
– Alan Cabelly
"His IQ drops 50 points every time he laces up a pair of running shoes." – Unknown
I want to close by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Remember the real reason why we celebrate Christmas and remember to give thanks for all of the gifts you have received this year. I am very thankful for all of the blessings that have been sent my way and thankful for all of the people in my life, old and new, that have changed my life in 2007. The ones that have touched my life in a positive way know who you are and I hope that I have retuned the favor also. Thanks for supporting me, training with me, running races with me, and keeping me on the right path. Even if that path involved mud, rocks, a scary downhill, or never ending pavement, it was all in good fun. God Bless all of you and I look forward to a great 2008!
- Awesome Team and Upcoming Adventures
- Has it Really Been Almost 6 Months Since I Have Blogged?
- Mohican 100
- Dances with Dirt – Gnaw Bone
- Marathon Number Nine
- Welcoming Spring with Some PR’s
- Paging Spring…..Hello?
- Can Winter Please be Over
- Dashing Through the Snow
- Turkeys and Colder Temps
- Fall Updates