Hitting the trailz solo…

My knees are still recovering. Too slowly for me, but I don’t have choice but to remain patient! But I figured I would go test them out on the trails this morning. The normal crew is off doing various and sundry other things either because they are racing today or tomorrow at the Oklahoma Memorial Marathon, so I figured I would head out to the trails closest to my house: Lake Arcadia.

The first thing I noticed is the new sign. It’s OK, but I like the old sign better. The (fake) wood on this sign is thinner and I don’t care for the metal uprights. But whateva!

I was wearing my Garmin 305, but left the heart rate monitor at home. I’m really just out taking it easy trying to get a feel of how far I can go before my knee starts barking at me too badly. So unconcerned with my pace I took off. It felt good to be on the trails again. As you can see above, I was wearing my earbuds. I had downloaded the latest Ultrarunner Podcast and wanted to listen to the the normally one hour show. The long interview today was with Errol “The Rocket” Jones. He’s known as the patron saint of pacing. But he’s got an impressive running history as well. He was a 2:30 marathoner and started running trails in about 1981. He’s done Western States where Ann Trayson(!) helped crew him. He’s done Badwater and too many other races to mention. The guy was really super interesting. Not the normal guy you run into on the trails. He’s 62, a black man, a Vegan for the last 42 years and part of the Haight-Ashbury Ultrarunners Society (HAUS). Very unique dude. Anyway, if you don’t subscribe to the podcast, do yourself a favor and do so. Very inspiring.

So now I’m booking along down the curvy trails and things are good. But when I get to the open portion of the trails (think pasture) it’s clear that Spring has sprung. High grass on both sides of the trail. I had visions of the ticks and chiggers latching on as I ran past!

I keep on trucking and then I’m back into the woods again. There is a small bridge you go over where under the bridge is a lot of fallen timber, etc that forms a small dam of sorts. The upper portion is a stagnant, green pond. Under the bridge and downstream is just a dry creek bed of sorts. Anyway, I stopped to look because the green pond scum was, well, really green. That’s when I saw it. A good sized water moccasin was at the edge on some longs half way into the water. He slithered into the green oooze and disappeared. I didn’t get a picture, but I did take one of the pond I’m telling you about.

As far as my knees go, they were doing OK for the first few miles. At mile three, however, my left knee really started to hurt. At 3.5 miles I decided to walk the rest of the way back to the trailhead. Recovery is such a slow process! I hate it. But I love me some trailz and I’m so glad I got the chance to be out there today. :)

Lake McMurtry 50K Trail Race Report

Warning, super-long self-indulgent race report ahead!

Welp, it was time. I was at Lake McMurtry and i had found what I took to be the start/finish area for the race. Only a handful of cars and nothing seemed to be setup. I was sitting in my car in the dark at 6AM before the 7AM start wondering what kind of fun awaited me as the night sky was lit up with the most magnificent light show courtesy of Mother Nature and the lightning streaking across the sky. The forecast had most definitely taken a turn for the worst. It looked like it was going to be a real mudfest (but was not).

After my long drive, I needed to find the facilities. I made my way to the bathroom in the darkness. When I made it back to my car, I decided it was time to put on my trail shoes. I decided to wear my flip-flops for the drive down so I wouldn’t have to wear my shoes any longer than necessary. I knew it was going to be a long day. I had to bring the flip-flops anyway as they are my favorite thing to wear after a long run. I first slipped on my maximum protection trail running socks by Drymax. By the way, these socks are my favorite. I own three pairs and have had zero issues with blisters, etc. An amazing product. Next I slipped on my gaiters and shoes. My shoe of choice for this race is the Brooks Cascadia 6. The shoes were outstanding. Zero footwear issues and great traction on some very slippery spots. Love these shoes! Anyway, after the shoes I strapped on my ankle RoadID (what, you don’t have RoadID? Better remedy that).

I stepped out of my car and started chatting with some of the folks that began arriving. The temperature was about perfect. Probably in the 60′s with a light breeze. It had sprinkled, but now it had stopped. And so had the lightning. Things were looking up weather-wise. The trails only got a little bit of rain the night before, but if the weather could hold off during the race, then all systems go. My pre-race strategy was to wear my 70oz Camelbak. The aid stations seemed to be fairly close together, but my last 50K was 106 (heat index) and I needed the extra water. A handheld would not have been enough. But things were just so mild and nice Saturday morning! My game time decision was to call an audible and chuck the Camelbak. My parking was so close, I threw it in the trunk of my car. I didn’t plan to go back to the car unless my footwear choice meant I needed to grab my road shoes. And as I said, I had no shoe issues, so I didn’t even need a drop bag. I had an Amphipod Hydraform Thermal-Lite 20oz handheld as well as an Amphipod AirFlow Lite belt. My belt had a single Amphipod SnapPod Endurance Module which I stuffed with organic Medjool Dates from Whole Foods Market. I like this setup. The pouch on the belt let me carry two rubber coin purses for my SaltStick Electrolyte Capsules as and a couple of doses of Tylenol. The last thing I had on my belt was my camera. It was inside a baggie to keep it dry. I had planned on taking a lot of pictures, but that was not to be. By the way, the simple reason I prefer my Amphipod belt to others I have tried is simple: elastic. The others tend to just slip down around your waist. If you properly tighten the Amphipod, it generally stays where you put it and doesn’t bounce around. Imagine that. :o)

I then wandered over to pick up my timing chip. They gave me two little fastener thingies to attach it to my shoe, so I did. It was almost show time. Where were all of the people? It looked like maybe only a dozen people opted for the early 7AM start instead of the normal 8AM start. Those starting at 7AM would not be eligible for prizes, so I would be running with the back of the pack crowd. The question was really how long it would take the speedsters to make up our hour head start and catch us! Everything was setup and ready to go. Wow, these TATUR folk are amazing! You would think that they had experience putting on races or something! :)

Here’s a quick picture I took of Brian Hoover just a couple of minutes before he fired his starter pistol at 7AM sharp:

I fired up my Garmin Forerunner 305 and got ready to hit my start button as soon as I heard the gun. That wasn’t too hard as Brian was about 10 feet away. Bang! And we were all off. I had planned on using my Garmin to run my own race. Pre-race I decided that a 13:30 pace would be great for the first 25K and then just reassess and see what I felt like in the second half. My strategy was to start slow and then either speed up, or just hold on for the 2nd half. The early group took off pretty quickly and I was instantly in last place. I looked at my Garmin and realized that at their current pace, they would be completing their 50K in just over 6 hours. So either A) they should not have chosen the early start, or B) they were going too fast. I was pretty sure that they were going too fast so I just hung back. I passed the pack when they slowed down in about 2 miles. There was only one person ahead of me at this point. He was pretty far ahead too. I couldn’t see him. But I kept trucking. But this time I decided that an average 13 minute pace was a better option for me than 13:30. I felt really good. I wasn’t pushing it at all. I would speed up to 9:30 down hills, slow down to 14:30 up hills, but maintained a sub 13 minute average. It felt good and felt like I could run at that pace all day. So yay. If I did, I would blow away what I was planning on doing coming into the race.

Things had cleared up and there was zero rain. The weather was perfect and I was feeling good. At five miles I reeled in the guy that was head of me. I found him in a cow pasture a little freaked out by the cows. I dont’ know how long he was there or if that is why I caught him. He told me that the cows (between 10-15) had tried to charge him. Heh. I waved my hat at them and charged on through. I told him that cows weren’t the brightest critters on earth and they just thought that perhaps you were there to feed them and that he had nothing to fear. I told him as long as there wasn’t a bull in the field we were good. I also told him that I doubted that there were bulls around or the RD would have warned us. City folk! :) So we took off together with him in the lead. In about another mile we hit an aid station. I don’t know what was going on with him, but he kind of hung back and I didn’t see him again. So onward and upward!

Leading up to this race, I felt fat and out of shape. I joked with friends that it must mean that I tapered correctly! Isn’t that the truth? After high mileage weeks, when you spend a lot of time not running and eating too much, it makes it seem that you won’t be able to do anything come race day. But your body craves the recovery and you are fresh for the race. That part was working great. I’m really enjoying the trail at this point. I ended up jumping over the Leap O’ Doom four times that day. Actually, the fourth time, I chose to step across it instead of jump. More on whylater.

Bang! What’s that? I notice the time. It’s 8AM and it’s the start of the regular 50K race time. The faster runners I guess. I wonder when they will catch me? I’m sure that they will catch me, but I could never tell. The fact is, there was also a 12K and 25K. Between all of the groups running different distances and start times combined with the different loops were were running, I had no idea if who passed me was a 12K speedburner or just some amazing 50K runner. I think that is why it pays to simply compete against yourself. You may be trying to compete against a person pacing themselves for half of your distance. Not good.

I kept running and hitting the aid stations. Pro-tip to anyone who runs this race: if it’s not super hot, skip your hydration bladder and just carry a handheld. The aidstations are numerous. I didn’t really keep track, but I would bet that you would never have to go more than 5 miles to one. Just refill your bottle and grab some goodies and off you go. Bonus! David Wood was manning one of the aid stations! I saw him maybe 2 or 3 times during the race. I also saw him post-race smoking a stogie. :)

During training runs, I’m usually with a group and as such we tend to do a 8/2 run-walk strategy. This didn’t even cross my mind for the first 10 miles. My Garmin wasn’t capable of that kind of scheduling so it would have been hard for me to keep track of. Not only that, but you end up power-walking up the big hills anyway, so I decided to just run the whole way. So I kept running. Finally, I see someone I know from the 8AM start heading toward me. Maurice Lee! Maurice is a pretty dedicated member of the Landrunners, a great OKC road running club, but he likes to live in both worlds and you are just as likely to see him on the trail. As such, he’s a dues paying member of OTRA. Great to see Maurice! I keep running and then who do I see? Henry Bickerstaff! Henry is a very dedicated trail runner who is making his way back from being injured. He raced, and finished, the Western States Endurance Run last year.  I will always be thankful to Henry. I crashed and burned badly in my first ultra. A lot of factors I won’t get into right now. I finished the race, but I was so slow that I missed the eight hour cut off. So it’s a DNF. Henry was so thoughtful, he mailed me his finisher award. I keep it on my shelf at work. Pretty awesome. Thanks Henry! He looks strong going past me. I keep going and who do I see? It’s Nancy Shidler! Nancy is  a friend and my coach/sounding board. She has so much experience that I know she will have an opinion on whatever I throw at her. I knew I would see her first as she is the fastest of the club members that I run with that I knew were doing a 50K today. She looked good and we slapped each others hands as we passed. She finished in a little over 6 hours for her 50K. I kept running.

The weather was still great. My nutrition was dialed in. My hydration was dialed in. My cardio was good. No problems with my legs. I was still averaging a sub 13 pace. Wow, could I really finish my 50K in the 6:30 range? I’m tooling down the trail and who do I see? My OTRA buddie and fellow blogger Julie Dolph! She looks great and I think she is moving pretty smartly down the trail. We say hey and I can’t wait to see her after the race for the scoop on her race. I’m sad to report, she had to drop from the 50K to the 25K due to illness. She probably shouldnt’ have raced at all with a fever, but Julie is a very tough woman!

I’m probably getting my chronology wrong here, but I did want to say that I saw my friend Janice Smith on the trail and we got to say hi to each other. She was running the 12K today. You looked great Janice! I saw Beth Combs on the trail too. Can’t remember where now!

I looked down and I noticed that one of the fasteners that was holding my timing chip in place had broken. Uh oh. The next time I passed near the start/finish area, I had to ask for a replacement. It took a couple of minutes. But I figured I would rather sacrifice a couple of minutes and NOT lose my timing chip! OK, chip attached and I’m off again.

Weather is still holding out. I’m running strong. At 10 miles I get my first hint of trouble ahead as my knees start to hurt. Not terrible and not enough to slow me down, but I notice them.  I finally finish my first 25K. Half way there! I’m still at a sub-13 minute pace. Nutrition/hydration/cardio/lets all feel good. But my knees are really starting to hurt. I then decide to take my first dose of Tylenol. Two 500mg caplets down the hatch. Then it started to rain. It was actually a pleasant rain. I don’t mind running in the rain. If it’s a torrential downpour or thunderstorm, then not so much. But just a nice steady rain? No problem. But even the nice steady rain didn’t last. It would rain for awhile and then stop. Then rain some more and then stop. Not a big deal. It made the trail slick in spots, soupy in others, but overall had no impact on the trail. Traction was not an issue for me, though I did see a couple of people crash!

I keep running and my knees start getting progressively worse. I start slowing down. Ouch, step, ouch. They didn’t hurt nearly as bad when I walked fast so I started walking. The trouble with walking is well, that you are walking. I’m not a fast walker even when I try to walk fast. I can certainly run faster than I can walk, so this was not good. I would walk and then run. By mile 20, I took my second dose of Tylenol. Oh my. Really? Am I seriously going to have to walk the next 10 miles or so? Really? I should have raced the 25K. I could have really pushed it and gotten a pretty sweet time! But no. I want to go long. My goal is to run a 100 mile race one day. So today was going to be a 50K.

People were now passing me. “Good job”. “Looking good”. You know something? When you feel good and are booking down the trail those greeting seem very positive. Heck yeah I’m doing well and I’m looking good! But when you are forced to walk because it feels like knives stabbing through your knees when you run and you hear those some words, they sound condescending. A bone thrown out to the slow guy. It’s all very subjective. The person saying it doesn’t have a clue and they genuinely are being friendly and helpful. But how it is perceived by the hearer depends on how they are doing. When someone would say “how’s it going?” I would say “great” or “OK” because I know that they don’t really want to hear it. It would take too long and would be a downer. I know that “how’s it going” isn’t really a question and “great” isn’t really an answer. Have you ever asked “how’s it going” and then had the person go on and on about their Gout or how they just had their corns shaved or how they had a high colonic go south on them? When that happens, I’m thinking “I really don’t want to know this. It’s not a question, but a standard greeting”. But it does grate on you. I feel like I was just lying to everyone. “How’s it going?” “Great!”.

I did have one guy come up behind me and started chatting with me. He asked the generic “how’s it going?”. I decided to tell him. As it turns out, that was a good move. He asked if I needed any Tylenol. I begged off since I had my max dose and Tylenol has a very low level for toxicity. He graciously hung back and told me about his knee issues and how he deals with them. He was wearing calf sleeves and he recommended them. He recommended that I use my foam roller more and that I also take Glucosamine. The advice seemed pretty solid. I then told him to take off and that I didn’t want slow him down. We parted and off he went. Dangit! I forgot to ask him for his name. Oh well. Thank you anonomous runner guy with calf sleeves for your advice!

I kept moving. I would go about 1/2 mile and then when it felt like I could try running again, I would take off on a trot. I would get sometimes 50 feet and have to stop and go back to walking. The pain was intense. My left knee was worse so it was altering my gait badly when I tried to run and that made even my lower back hurt. I tried hopping. Hop on the right leg to lessen the pressure on the left. No dice. An ultrarunner mantra when you find yourself in a bad place is “it will get better”. That only frustrated me. That only applies when you feel faint because your nutrition or hydration is screwed up. Or you just are really tired and need to rest a few minutes. Then things get better then back to running again. I was frustrated because “it will get better” does not apply in every situation. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but this was getting ridiculous. Dropping was never an option. No way. But running was pretty much over for me. I saw my average pace just get worse and worse on my Garmin. Depressing.

But then, I remember my three goals:

  1. Finish in less than 7 hours (fantasy goal)
  2. Finish in less than 8 hours (doable and psychologically important since 8 hours was the cut off of the last 50K I DNFd)
  3. Finish in less than 9 hours, the even cut off.

I was encouraged because goal number one I felt that I most certainly would have achieved had I not had the knee issues and that amazes me. I was encouraged because even with having to walk about the last 10 miles, it looked like I had a real shot at finishing in less than 8 hours. I was encouraged because my most modest goal of finishing sub 9 was a piece of cake. I kept moving. Now I had about 5 miles to go. I’m doing the splits and figuring my potential finish time. With how I started, I would be seriously mad if I missed my 8 hour time! I hated that I had to push so hard, but push I did. I walked as fast as I could and when I felt able, I attempted my Quasimodo jog/shuffle until I felt like I would fall to the ground from pain (usually 50′ or less). But I pushed. I wanted sub 8!

I hear the music and I’m so very close. I just want the pain to stop. I keep moving. I’m good at that. I can put one foot in front of the other and that’ s what I do. I finally crossed the finish line. 7:35:13 after starting.  About 10 minutes later I had a friend take a picture of me. Ignore the time behind me. I started an hour early remember?

I promptly downed a couple of cold beers (for medicinal reasons don’t cha know!) and starting chatting with my friends who had already finished.

The pain notwithstanding, I must say that I consider the race a huge personal success. If I can crack the code on the knee thing, it bodes well for my future. I need to figure it out, or Midnight Madness won’t be in my future. But I met and even exceeded my goals. I’m grateful.

And as fun as the race was, the period of fellowship and camaraderie after the race was even better. I think it’s all having that shared experience that brings down the walls and people just chill out together and talk about all manner of things. Shout out to Beth, Peggy, Henry, Maurice, Cindy, Matt, Julie, Nancy, Janice and all of the rest of the OTRA crew!

I changed into dry clothes and headed home. Mission accomplished. :)

Twas the night before McMurtry and all through the house…

OK, so the big 50K trail race is tomorrow. I DNF’d my first 50K attempt last June in a most craptastic fashion. I’m better trained, lighter and tomorrow’s weather won’t be like the triple digits of the hilly Ozark course I faced last time. But I’m still nervous. You just never know. I could go out too fast (again) and do the zombie death march for the last 10 miles. I hope not. I’m nervous, but I’m confident too. Sure, I could have trained more and trained harder. But I’m ready. To quote Stuart Smalley: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

If I do well, I will be doing my happy dance. If I fail, I will be disgusted. Clint will be disgusted and he will give me the stink-eye!

Witchita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

My alarm went off at 4AM and startled me awake. So soon? It seems I just went to bed. Well, 11pm was only 5 hours previous, so perhaps my assessment was accurate. I only laid in bed for 9 minutes before forcing myself to haul my carcass out of bed and into the dining room where all of my running gear was laid out. Today was a big day. Not a big day really, it was just a training run. But a big day because it was a new location to me and I was really looking forward to hooking up with my trail running buddies since I had to bail on them last week.

I made some coffee, ate some Shredded Wheat with almond milk, too my meds, brushed my teeth and got dressed. I loaded up the car and headed out. We decided to meet at the Pace Fitness parking lot a bit before 5:30AM to get an early start. I pulled in right at 5:30 and found Peggy and Nancy waiting. Nanc was nice enough to let us all pile into her Pilot for the trip. We were off! Out plan was to meet Julie at the base of Mt. Scott by 7AM. An uneventful trip save for the bizarre stories told about work life the previous week. No, I will not expound on that! We were on our way and things were good. A smaller group than last week, but one glad to be heading out together. A text came. Julie was quite distressed that she had apparently slept through her alarm. She was upset and bummed. Peggy texted back and said come anyway! You can meet us after the first loop. So Julie did just that!

We arrived just as the sun was starting to rise. Peggy and Nancy wanted to put in 18 today. I settled for 12 since I’m racing a 50K next week and my plan really only called for 10 today. They both will be racing the same 50K, but they are more experienced and can get away with the higher mileage. So I let them put in 6 running up Mt. Scott while I stayed in the car feeling like a slacker. Happily, Nanc had the latest issue of Ultrarunning Magazine in the car so I had something cool to read while waiting. Ellie Greenwood, female ultrarunner of the year, was on the cover.

I decided it was about to to put on my shoes and get ready. As soon as I was done, guess who show’s up? Julie! We talked for awhile and were both pretty excited about the run. It wasn’t too long before Nancy and Peggy came back from the top of Mt. Scott back to the car. So we all got ready to head up to the top of Mt. Scott. First time for me and Julie, second for Peggy and Nancy.

So off we went! It was at least a 1,200′ climb in elevation to the top of Mt. Scott. Hey, it’s Oklahoma, that’s pretty huge to us! I was huffing and puffing running all of the way up. There was a section of round boulders that ran to the top of the mountain. Really strange. You would have to see them in person as the picture doesn’t do it justice, but take a look:

We finally reached the top. Did I mention that it was foggy? Pea soup. Really bad. They all kept telling me on the run just how pretty it was LAST week when they came out! Here’s a picture of Julie and Peggy on the top of the mountain:

Told you it was foggy! Not great for picture taking. I’m going a bit out of order here, but as we left, we drove to the top so I could take another picture since the sun had burned off so much of the fog. It was still very hazy, but a big improvement over the morning. Here’s a picture from the top, sans pea soup:

We ran down the mountain back to the car. Did you know that it’s easier to run down a mountain than to run up it? It’s true. You will just have to trust me on this! I’m kidding, and what’s funny is at the end of a very long mountain race, the runners would greatly prefer going up a mountain than running down a quad crushing hill.

We finally made it to the car and made our way to Dog Hollow Trail for the trail portion of the morning festivities. One the way we saw a number of Bison. Huge critters!

Finally, at the trailhead. Yes! Love me some trails. Here are the girls at the trailhead:

Off we went! The trail is pretty technical, but the first mile is pretty manageable. Though I cannot imagine running it at night! I would certainly need a really good headlamp for that. The temperature wasn’t too bad really with forecast of temperatures in the mid 80′s. But the humidity was literally 100%! So the sweat had nowhere to go. We were popping our salt pills regularly!

Running was just amazing. The scenery was beautiful and so was the conversation. A lot of talk about next weekend’s race and other things. Lot’s of trail chatter. Good stuff! Going down a really rocky area Nanc pointed out something. I see it! I big and beautiful lizard! He scurried down the hill and over the rocks very rapidly. Fortunately he stopped on a rock to pose for me. Gentle reader, I present to you the Mountain Boomer:

We kept running and kept seeing some real beauty. I’m only posting just a few pictures, but I took many. Check this one out:

We kept running, watching our every step because there were rocks EVERYWHERE! Loved it. We stopped for a picture, this time with me in it. :o)

We drank some water and kept moving with me stopping occasionally to snap a photo. Like these two:

And my first panorama shot. What do you think?

We finally made it back to the car. A great run. But we really did take it easy. If we weren’t tapering we could have kept going or picked up the pace. But for today, it was perfect! On the way back to Mt. Scott, we spotted this guy:

Luckily, he was happy to ignore us! We drove to the top of Mt. Scott to nap a picture, as I said above “sans pea soup”, and I decided to try the panoramic option again:

Time to go home. I will see my buddies again soon as we are all racing next week together! I will happily be trailing the these speedy gals!

Okie Trail Runner out!

What I won’t do to take care of my body!

I was perusing the world wide innerwebs today and came across this story:

To Bounce Back Quicker, Try a Beer

Beer is a great recovery drink! It greatly reduces post marathon muscle inflammation and respiratory illness. In the study cited in the story above, the beer drinkers were more than three times less likely to experience upper-respiratory infection, and their markers for inflammation were 20 to 32 percent lower than the placebo group’s.

So if you see me throwing back cold one’s next Saturday after my 50K trail race, you will know I’m just tending to my health. :)

Update: Someone send this link about the greatness of Craft beer as it relates to healh. It’s all about the health. ;)

Got Perseverance?

“We went off course and stumbled through the darkness for hours, with me pausing periodically to scream into the wind and sit down. Even after we made it over that pass and up the next, after I literally crawled over Grant-Swamp pass, I lay on the ground and looked up at the stars. Then I got up and fell down a cliff. That’s where I basically started crying.” – Dakota Jones

Dakota Jones is one of the best Ultrarunners in the world, and one of the youngest too. In his latest blog post, Dakota Jones talks a lot about struggling. And overcoming.

When reading about the exploits of world class ultrarunners, I assume that most things that apply to mere mortals like me do not apply to them. I mean, when I’ve been out there for hours and hours and my legs feel like lead and I just want to stop, I have a hard time imagining that feeling ever really occurs to the Dakota Jones’ of this world. After all, even when they are pretty tired at the end of a 100 mile race, they are still clocking mile times faster than I can run one mile as hard as I can run. So reading Dakota’s comments bring me some hope. Strange I know, but seriously, if you feel you can’t go on and you keep going, you will eventually get there. The only difference between us is that I have to worry about cut off times!

The first time I attempted a 50K, I was overweight and undertrained. Still new to running, I brought a lot of enthusiasm, but it was no match for the +100 degree temps on those Arkansas hills. I DNF’d because I missed the cut off. I wasn’t even close. I was doing the zombie death march at the end. Pretty bad stuff! But you learn. I learned that day that I should have tried a 25K! I also learned not to OD on the salt pills (puffy hands). I learned that with chip timing, I really should just hang back and let others get on in front of me. I learned that there is no substitute for building a good base with a lot of long runs. I learned not to go out too fast. Yeah, I know. Everyone says that but still falls victim to it on every race! But I was particularly bad at it on that day. I was near the front and part of a fast moving Conga line. The first aid station was a bit over 6 miles from the start I think and I remember my eyes stinging badly from all of the sweat pouring into them. I was huffing and puffing. Not a good thing in an Ultra!

So heading into my next 50K on April 7th (Lake McMurtry), I will be going with a bit more wisdom and experience. On the plus side I have been running a bit more and I have lost some weight and the temps should not be in the triple digits. On the negative side, I could have run more and I feel like I’m still slow as can be. I’m afraid that I will go out at an even and controlled pace for 25K and then slide into the shuffling territory. I will shuffle my way to the end. I will finish, but it remains to be seen how long it actually takes me. If it all works out, I’m hopeful for the future. I have a pretty agressive training schedule coming out of the race, so the extra mileage ought to really help. Too late to start now, but after the race I want to start doing some speedwork once a week. I hope that helps as well. But even if I fail, I will not give up. Why? Well, I just like running. :)

So what does this have to do with Dakota Jones? Simple. You never quit. You get stronger by challenging yourself. There is a saying among Ultrarunners that things will always get better. It’s a mantra you need to repeat to yourself when you find yourself in that dark place in a race. I’ve heard I don’t know how many people say that they thought they were done and wanted to quite. They stopped for a minute, drank some flat Coke or something and then took off again and before you know it they are booking down the trail again. That will be what I will be thinking of on race day. It will get better. Hang in there. Keep moving.

In this way you survive. You may even thrive. Dakota’s blog post is called “Fraying the Wire”. He ends it with this:
“We become stronger by fraying the wire, placing ourselves in situations in which we are not comfortable. Struggling and scared, we find ourselves capable of more than we knew.”

Absolutely!