Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 Flatrock 50K

Ultramarathon #13, Flatrock 50K is done and although not very long compared to going 100 miles in June, it definitely had a few challenges.  I felt more rested going into this race than I did the Heart of America Marathon 3 weeks ago when I just couldn't seem to feel rested.  This time I felt a little rested, but the dull sciatic pain and tightness continues when I am not running.  Not sure what to do about it other than live with it for now.  The shot on Wed. seemed to help with the tightness but still have some of the dull pain.  But I won't dwell on it since I still can enjoy running.

It was hectic trying to get ready and get out of town since I couldn't take the whole day off work.  It took me awhile after we got on the road to relax.  The drive to Elk City Lake Park near Independence, KS was almost 5 hours and Hugh went with me.  We had no problems until we arrived and then we weren't sure where we needed to be but eventually figured it out.  We arrived just in time for the yummy pre-race dinneer of spaghetti, meatballs on side, rolls, and salad.  I was pleased they allowed one guest to eat free.  We ate dinner with Jeff and Lisa and then headed over to their campsite to set up our tent.  It was a beautiful clear night and the temperature cooled off.  Jeff built a fire that we enjoyed and I ate some chocolate.  Then we we headed to bed about 10 pm.

The 50K started at 7:30 am so we got up at 6 am.  Temp was a cool 54 degrees.  I slept okay considering I woke up several times and some of the air leaked out of the mattress and pumped it up again at some point in the night.  It really wasn't that comfortable with the lack of air so will take the foam pad next time I sleep in the tent.  I ate a pre-race shake, cereal, and banana.  I decided to carry 2 gels and 3 packets of Succeed Ultra and then put 2 of each into Jeff's drop bag.  I also had 5 Succeed Caps and planned to take one about every hour.  We walked to the start line before 7 am for the pre-race meeting.  Basic instructions from the race director Eric Steele were to follow anything marked blue and "if you look up, you're goin' down!" (see the videos at the end) as the course was supposed to be quite rocky.  My goal was to try to stay upright as much as possible and not hurt myself.

We started off on the road and ran a quarter mile or so until we headed into the woods.  I tried to place myself where I thought I needed to be so I wouldn't need to pass people as soon as we got onto the trail.  Immediately, the trail was very rocky.  It is amazing that all this seemed to be hidden amongst trees.  There were 3 guys way ahead out of sight and then I was near about 4 others.  My pace was almost as slow or even slower than my training runs at Rock Bridge park due to extreme difficulty of this trail.  Occasionally had to look up down or around to see the next blue marker but never got off course.  Filled my bottle at the first aid station and may have eaten some peanuts, but didn't waste any time and I was off running again.

Several runners passed me and we kept passing back and forth for several miles until finally some of them went on ahead of me.  I was feeling good other than felt like breakfast wanted to come back up for the first 8 miles.  The course was beautiful with lots of limestone bluffs that we ran beside or in some cases ran in between.  It was a fun place to run and almost seemed like running though a maze at some points with all the rock formations.  Any places that were runnable, I picked up the pace and then slowed down when the course became more technical.  It seemed like I was speeding up and slowing down a lot based on the condition of the trail and not so much the hills.  I passed one of the guys that had been running ahead of me and pacing me so well before the turn around.  I hesitated to pass since it was really easier to just follow someone but I needed to keep my pace and he was slowing.

I counted about 7 guys that had turned around with Brad leading the pack so I was in 8th place at the turnaround point.  GPS had 15 miles, but I think it was slightly further.  I picked up my 2 extra Accel gels and Succeed packets and filled my bottle.  On the way back I got to see quite a few runners including Jeff that were headed to the turn around.  There were 42 starters in the 50K so it was good to see a few people since otherwise I was running alone most of the way back.  Also, saw a few runners from the 25K but never did see Lisa.  At several aid stations, the volunteers would mention the next runner was only a minute or so ahead.  At most of the aid stations, I had a small square of peanut butter and jelly sandwich and refilled the bottle.  I always had my lid ready to come off and the Succeed ready to dump in and didn't spend much time since I find it is best to keep moving.

About mile 22 I slipped and fell but just got a little muddy and nothing hurt.  I passed 4 people at different points even though I slowed a little.  I felt good but didn't want to risk falling.  I filled my bottle at the last aid station where the guys seemed to be having a good time with their own bottle.  Not far to go and I was feeling strong and felt like trying to run faster.  As careful as I was trying to be, I fell again about mile 27 and fell on my left side on some rocks.  The front of my leg just above the foot was over a small log and left a scratch and the tissue was a little sore to the touch.  Also side of my hip was a bit scratched up but not too sore.  I got up and was still feeling good but trying to run too fast and fell again about mile 27.2.

The last few miles were really rocky so I just hoped not to fall again.  I was relieved to finally see the ditch we had run across earlier and when I got to the road I passed a couple 25Kers that were walking.  I kept going at a steady pace and then one of them catches up to me and is running pretty strong so I try to keep up.  I finished pretty fast as I looked down and my pace was 7:20-something.  They definitely knew we were coming at the finish line since they made a lot of noise with their noise-makers (see video below).

Lisa had finished her 25K in one piece and Jeff was about 1.5 hours out from the 50K.  They had chili to eat but all I could drink at first were 2 cans of lemon lime soda.  Then I had some chili and some of Krispy Creme donuts that Hugh had purchased.  Once Jeff had finished I was ready to eat again.  Overall I placed 4th out of 40 finishers, finishing in 5:35:18 (18 min behind Paul).  The next runner was 7 min behind me.  At the turnaround which wasn't quite the halfway point since we ran extra at the end, I was at 2:39 so I did slow about 15 min in the second half.  This was the most challenging course I have run.  This was the most challenging course I have run in the sense of trying to stay upright.  It took a lot of concentration to not fall and I was glad to finish with no major injuries.

This race has a unique honor for the craziest called the "Hall-of-Pain".  This is bestowed on any runner who runs and completes 10 consecutive FlatRock 50Ks. This honor means they are knighted into a brotherhood, and have a permanent cloth bib with their permanent race number, and lifetime free entry to do the 50K.  Paul, the runner that finished before me earned this honor on Saturday.  It is amazing that anyone would subject themselves to this course that many times.  However, it is an awesome race so I can see why people would come back to run it again.

From L to R: Brad (#1), Paul (#3) and Andy (#4) talking before the 50k. The numbers in parentheses are their finishing places
Andy, Lisa, and Jeff

Finisher's Award

Picture of trail



Monday, September 06, 2010

2010 Heart of America Marathon

If you could care less about this blog and want race results:
Race Results


Dan H. Photos

Facebook Album 1

Facebook Album 2


Columbia Missourian

Columbia Tribune

Columbia Tribune - Winner Article

Columbia Missourian Video

Today was the 51st annual Heart of America Marathon. This is going to be a short report this year. #7 HOA is complete. Temp was about 68 F at the start with 60% humidity and a bit windy. 10 F cooler would have been better but wasn't bad with the wind. Over 250 runners this year so one of the best turnouts for this race. We used to have around 130 - 140 and last year was the 50th so there were over 300. It was great to see a good crowd. Also, we had chip timing for the first time in the history of the race.

I started off with Andy S. I took water at the first aid station and was glad I did since the second one wasn't ready. I had 5 gels and planned to take one about ever 5 miles and had an extra. Also had some Succeed caps and took one at an hour. Not much really happened as the crowd was pretty sparse up where I was running. Talked to Tom W. for awhile. He mentioned at some point he thought a guy had been hit on his bike and turned out that was the case. I didn't see it happen and not sure if I saw the guy, but he was okay. Ran up the first hill with Tom the fastest I have ever run that mile of the race in 7:08. Maybe not a good thing? Then caught back up to Andy. We both did some walking on Easley Hill, mile 13. This is the first time I have tried it during the race and ended up being a little faster than last year even with the walking They called our time at 1:30:22 at the half so just about 20 sec slower than I was last year.

I didn't feel that I had a sub-3 in my today so goal at this point was 3:05 or less. About mile 14, Andy had pulled ahead and Shawn & Karen gave us water. I really needed it. The second water station wasn't ready, I missed the one at the bottom of Easley, and the one at the top, wasn't much water in my cup so I was needing it! I poured the extra over my neck and I felt like it gave me a boost.

Tom W. passed me before Pierpont and just cruised right past me. I wish I could have joined him but didn't have that gear today. At Pierpont, Tom M. handed me water. He had been in the lead, but didn't want to push it due to his recent glute muscle issue so called it a long run.

On the hill before Rock Bridge Elementary, mile 20, I was moving pretty slow so walked a couple times but still had a decent split. This hill just comes at the worst time. There was a guy close behind me. Next mile I did slow a bit since over 7 min at 7:09. I like to keep miles other than the hills under 7 on this course. The last 4 I just didn't have enough left to push too hard. Guy behind me went around me at 24 miles and my last 2 miles were 7:30 and 7:22 so gave up just a little. I don't think anyone else was close behind. Maybe could have pushed that a bit but just wasn't motivated today.

More crowds on Broadway so picked up the pace a bit. Finished in 3:02:58 which is a great time for this difficult course. No course record for me this year but my second fastest time, 2:35 slower than last year. Considering, I never felt great, I had a good run and legs felt strong and a solid pace most of the way. Just didn't have the speed needed to go under 3 and lacked the motivation to try pushing any harder than I pushed the entire race for the last 4 miles. Last 2 miles slowed down, but not horrible. Need to do more hill repeats next time. I am thinking next year, due to my race schedule, I will may have to run it easy and then see what I can do in 2012.

To be honest, I wasn't that excited about running a marathon today, but I am glad I did it. I never had a point at the beginning of the marathon where I am trying to reign in the pace. I had to push to get the pace. I didn't feel beat up after the race so I do think my legs are in good shape. This is a good marathon and everyone is so nice to come out and cheer us on. I ended up 6th overall and the 2nd place award in my age group even though I was 3rd since there was a master's category. Didn't think I had a chance this year due to the great competition, but Tom M. called it a day so that put me ahead one more place.

My splits from Previous HOAs are here
I like to compare each year, but this year the miles were off a little more than last year so not exact.

 Running with Andy S. on the trail portion of the course about mile 12.
Tom M. handing me water.
This guy was near behind me the entire time and passed me about mile 24.