Monday, July 30, 2012

Do it for the Buckle

      July 28 2012 5:00AM I started on an adventure few men or women will ever do and even fewer sane people. I raced the Burning River 100 mile Endurance Run, why you ask, for the belt buckle of course. I am reminded of my youth when my friends and I competed and dreamed of silver belt buckles riding bulls, bucking horses and barrel racing. Twenty five years later I am running one hundred miles for one. I have to say the challenge and great group of runners competing was the real motivation.
      I will start with Friday  as I had a great day with one of my crew Dana Smith who drove me up to Cleveland. A business meeting for lunch then to packet pick up where we met up with Daily Mile friends from Michigan. We had dinner at a great little local Italian restaurant, many running stories shared along with laughs. An early evening back to the hotel to watch the opening ceremonies for the summer Olympics, great inspiration before a race. I fell asleep at nine o'clock which was great because I needed to be up at three thirty to get to the start line for check in. I awoke at one thirty when nature called from all the hydration I had done. I was wide awake at that point and the mind was reviewing all my drop bag contents and race preparations, I decided there was no sense in trying to get back to sleep. Chris my other crew member had just got in fifteen minutes before that so not much sleep for him but after they dropped me off at the start line they would have time to rest.
      The start line was an experience in itself three hundred sixty runners in the dark with headlamps and flashlights. Everything from last minute race preparations to discussing race strategies. I positioned myself along side experienced ultra marathons to make sure I kept myself slow and on pace to finish the race. We started exactly at 5:00am once we hit the trail I was in the middle of the second pack along side fellow Daily Miler Melanie Peters and ultra great Connie Gardner. We hit a stream crossing that seemed to come out of nowhere in the dark shortly there after a tree fell across the course behind us. Around the three mile mark we lost the course and got lost but with the experienced runners we only went a short distance before we were back on course. The first ten miles were on trail and exactly on goal pace the next nine miles were on the road I stayed with the group who pushed the pace fast but I decided to stay with them. Eight minute/mile pace made that section go fast. We hit the first major aid station where I took some food as well as refilled my Heed. Back on the trail I let the group go and ran with Connie for the next section what an amazing person and great tips on slowing down and making a strong finish. The marathon mark brought the first aid station where my crew was waiting I was right on schedule and so were they. I made my first rookie mistake in that I thought I could fuel on a liquid diet. I changed shoes and was feeling great really enjoying the fact that God had granted me an overcast seventy degree day to run my first ultra. I took of and settled into a good pace on some tough trail two miles in I got the sugar coma feeling where I was tired and feeling like I could of curled up beside the trail and taken a nap. A couple miles I was feeling better shortly after I hit the towpath and my first mind versus body argument happened, my mind said flat and paved you can make up lost time, my legs said this is mile forty don't burn me up; the legs won. I picked up Andy O'Brien shortly after getting on the Buckeye Trail and we paced each other to the next aid station where our crews were waiting on us. I was also greeted by a group of friends that had come up from Columbus I tried another shake but it did not sit well and I got sick joking that forty seven miles was my puke threshold of miles. I made my second rookie mistake, I should have stayed and recovered and gotten solid food on my stomach with people I knew there to take care of me. I thought I should keep moving and recover on the run, I was greeted by the worst part of the course. Single track technical trail that had been rain soaked, slippery, slimy, muddy hell does not begin the next four miles. I got sick again two miles in and that left me dehydrated and completely crashed. I stopped and set down for a half hour at the fifty mile aid station recovered and a cup of Ramen noodle in the stomach I felt much better. Noodles at the next aid station and I was feeling strong again. I came into the next aid station to be greeted by my crew and Megan Mottet who made the trip Deb Michel and Jamison Roberts were still there. I ate two bowls of noodles rested and rehydrated the next five miles I felt great had a great pace another crew stop and I got a hug from Deb as she and Jamison headed home. A granola bar and quick refill I was off. This section I was simply on auto pilot though it did occur to me that I had run eighty miles on three hours sleep. This leg finished on bridle path through corn fields at two o'clock in the morning I got flashes of "Children in the Corn" a little unnerving. The covered bridge stop was great in that I knew I was going to finish with great friends taking care of me. The next leg was technical trail but not difficult more Ramen noodles at the next stop. The next five miles was flat trail and towpath I killed it with eight minute/mile pace. Mile ninety three the crew was there and I was in race mode. I pushed to the finish line feeling like I had conquered the world.

      Thank you God for blessing me with perfect weather and the strength to persevere and amazing friends to see me through this. One hundred miles for a belt buckle! Yes! An experience that tested the body and mind as well as put me with an elite group of athletes 25:58:59 finish time 102/199 overall place 15/25 age group, seventh place in my division USATF. Thank you everyone who thinks I am crazy but supported my endeavor and prayed for my success.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Finding Your Limits

       I started running four years ago with no idea of where it would take me or what it would bring into my life. Along the way life has brought me challenges and running has brought me comfort and many friends to get past the challenges. Now it brings it's own challenge of finding my physical limits and keeping balance in my life. My passion has brought me many opportunities as I was invited to run on a Hood to Coast relay team and selected along with nineteen others to represent the Columbus Marathon in their sister city Dresden Germany. All of this while I am training and preparing for the Burning River 100 mile endurance challenge.
     Run 100 miles "are you crazy?" "in one day?" "why?" are probably the most common responses I hear as I am asked what my next event is. The why is probably the easy because the challenge is there my competitive side is looking for the event I can win, place or show in a national event. I have found running the ultra marathon distances that you find your limits but you also find your reserves and strengths you didn't know were there. I compare to life's challenges you always can find the strengths and emotional fortitude we don't know we have. God will not give us more than we can handle we just have to accept the challenge and the love from friends and family, that is where we get our strength. The body has its limits as I have found when I ran thirty four miles on Friday followed by twenty six on Sunday. The effect was not immediate though I did feel fatigued Friday finishing when it was ninety one degrees. The effect was Wednesday morning when I overslept and missed my run, the body needed rest. I found my limits but I know that if I refuel and rest the next time sixty miles will not be as big of a challenge. Rest and recovery is where we get our strength, just like the hard work in and build from that. On the emotional side we need to build up from God and his gifts, our prayers will be answered. We have to take rest and reflection of reading his word and going to church to regain our strength. The challenge may not be ours the next time we may need to be there for someone else to give them the strength and courage to push through.
       My next blog will probably be my race report from the BR100 at the end of the month. Remember as tough as you you think it is now it is not more than you can handle, pray and be strong.