World’s Okayest Race Report

WinterRock 25K, Elk City Hiking Trail near Independence Kansas, January 7th, 2017

So there I was, no bullshit, powering over the jagged, rock infested single track of the WinterRock 25K course when I finally managed to pull within a few feet of a female runner I had been chasing for some time.  We were in the last 5 kilometers of the course, a section of trail notorious for its liberal slashing of skin, bruising of bodies, and cracking of bones of runners brave enough to challenge it.  Twelve miles into the race, I was feeling fast.  My breathing was rhythmic and easy while I maintained myself just barely below that “red line” effort that will eventually cause you to crash.  I had patiently been looking for a wider spot to pass on the left meanwhile keeping 6-10 foot distance between us.

Me Candi and Ryan after WinterRock 25K. We forgot to take a pic at the actual race, so we got one in the driveway when we got home.
Me Candi and Ryan after WinterRock 25K. We forgot to take a pic at the actual race, so we got one in the driveway when we got home.

She powered up a stack of rocks masquerading as trail and as I followed, I pushed off on my right foot to make the final step up to continue along the trail.  The force of lifting most of my body upward with a slight forward motion created enough force that, thanks to the slippery piling of leaves on the rocks, my foot slipped and shot out from under me.  Wielding dual handheld bottles for this exact reason, (they make excellent shock absorbers) I was ready to go down hard into the rocks.  My left hand was already pumping forward due to the motion of running and easily hit the ground first, beginning to take the impact of my fall.  My right arm was elbow back, hand and bottle by my waist as I was going down.  For some reason, rather than jab forward to catch myself, I came directly over the top like a closer delivering and 0-2 pitch with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th!  With every bit of speed I could muster, I rotated my shoulder around about 270 degrees – arm fully extended – managing to get my right hand in position to assist my left in catching my crashing body – thus saving my face and teeth from a very abrupt stop.  Unfortunately, while my hand made it around in time, the centrifugal force applied to my bottle caused it to slip off of my hand and take flight like a ballistic missile.  The unintentional missile strike made contact with its chosen target, scoring a powerful direct hit; the right hamstring of the female trail runner I had been looking to pass.  After catching myself, I looked up just in time to see her dip slightly and turn around with a look on her face that said, “What the hell was that?  I hope it wasn’t a fucking rattlesnake!” I shouted the first thing that came to my mind, “I’m sorry!  I didn’t mean to throw my water bottle at you!”  She looked at me like I was an alien speaking a strange intergalactic language, turned around, did a double take, and then asked, “You ok?” Climbing down the side of a steep hill trying to recover my missile – err, um – bottle.  I said again, “I’m fine, sorry about that.”  In all the races I have run, this is the first time I have heard of a runner hitting someone else with their water bottle, much less done it myself.  I eventually passed her and somehow managed to finish in front of her – hoping the entire time it wasn’t because of the water bottle incident.  At the finish line, I apologized again and she assured me it was no big deal but she would probably have a big bruise.

Humblebragging 101

This was written by yours truly and originally published in UltraRunning Magazine in July 2016

Humblebragging 101

Hey Ultrarunners!  Mid-Pack Zach here with some great tips on how you can step up your humblebragging game.  You didn’t train that body like a finely tuned Ford Pinto and manage to stumble across the finish line – barely under the final cutoff – not to share your ultramarathon experience with the world did you?  It is really too damn bad that our societal norms generally frown upon openly bragging on oneself.  But, there is a solution.  Thanks to all the social media outlets, there is still a way that you can let the entire world know how awesome you are, AND to do it in a way that will maintain your natural humility and non-attention whoring nature!  It is commonly referred to as “Humblebragging”, and I am here to tell you all about it.

Humblebragging is a completely socially acceptable method of spreading the accounts of your legendary ultrarunning exploits and nearly unmatched badassery (and pictures of your awesome bod) using the guise of humility.  Below I have expounded on a few of my favorite ways to humblebrag on social media.

“The Thank You’er”

This one is a classic!  Rather than directly bragging about how you killed this weekend’s 50 miler, simply thank all of the volunteers and race director for making such a wonderful experience possible.  Really lay it on thick and be sure to mention that without everyone’s support there would have been NO WAY you could ever possibly have achieved: (insert totally rad ultra-accomplishment here).  By the time you finish this epic thank you, people will be so impressed by your giving credit away that they will then be blown away by the fact that (insert totally rad ultra-accomplishment here).  No one will ever suspect such a thankful runner as a braggart.

“The Congratulator”

This method entails a long and winding status update about all the ultrahardcore people who despite all odds were able to persevere to the finish and how you were honored to be a part of it and then – here’s the humblebrag – managed to squeak out an: (insert mega gnarly ultrarunning feat here).  By congratulating everyone first you get to sneakily add in your awesomeness at the end.  Works every time!

“The Help Seeker”

One of my personal faves, “The Help Seeker” jumps right to the point and says something like: “During the (insert amazing ultra-endurance performance here) I had to deal with a serious case of (insert super horrific, unpleasant physical result of ultrarunning unfathomable distance here) from mile 3 and still kicked ass – how can I avoid this before next weekend when I will be running in (insert ridiculously crazy and hard to get into ultramarathon race).  This one is super effective because a.) you get to tell them about your badass race and b.) you get to brag about finishing in spite of injury or sickness like some kind of superhuman mutant.  Definitely my go-to humblebrag!

Pro-tip:  Make sure and add pictures!  What good is an epic humblebrag if you don’t include a picture of your cleavage, finisher buckle, massive calves, disgusting feet, muddy shoes, rock hard abs, medal collection, mid-air leaps, etc. etc.  Don’t just TELL the world how awesome you are, SHOW them!!!!  Oh – and all you product ambassadors out there, don’t forget to #hashtag your sponsors!!!!  Just kidding…. we all know you won’t!

Hiatus Ends Today

Oh hai guyz!

So I was going balls out all last winter, spring, and summer.  Many races and training miles that culminated into a great half year, capped by the Silver Rush 50 Miler in the mountains of Leadville Colorado.  I am behind on a few race reports and will be doing some more writing for my column in Ultrarunning Magazine, as well as posting some of my older articles on my site.

My Excuse:

I purchased a new (old) house perched at the edge of town on a few acres.  The problems is that it was built by in 1971 and decorated and furnished by Carol Brady and The Partridge Family.   Well, not really, but there was so much shag carpet and funky velvet wallpaper that it would make your head spin.  Directly across from the baby shit yellow toilet in the master bath was a gawd awsful blue bidet.  Yes. Really.  A blue bidet.  If you do not know what that is – google it.

Long story short, I have been remodeling this place since summer working evenings and weekends, so running has not happened.  Still hammering out HIIT workouts at least 3 days a week, and some weight training, but 10-20 miles a week running at most.  Candi and I did run the 50K at FlatRock – number 6 in a row for me – but paid a pretty steep price in pain.  So yeah, not much in the way of ultrarunning or any running for that matter.

The Point:

I am ready to make a comeback.  House project is slowing down with a bunch of the heavy work done. Comeback writing, running, and hell maybe some video making.

Keep an eye out – you might find me in the middle of the pack.

Prairie Spirit Trail 100 Preview: A Noob’s Guide to the PST 100

Prologue

I know this course and this race pretty freakin’ well. I have run the 100 mile twice (one with a blizzard DNF at mile 77 the second with a sub-24 hour finish) and the 50 mile once (under 8:45).  So yeah, I am pretty much an expert – or at the very least –  I have more than a few pointers for this race that I think at least somewhat useful.  For this preview, I will be focusing on the 100 miler.

Course

For those who don’t know, this course is Rails to Trails.  This means two things are certain: The course is 1.) FLAT and 2.)SMOOTH.  Great race for those not totally confident in their ability to climb mountains (or anthills) and those who have trouble getting to the refrigerator without tripping and falling.  The most technical part of the ‘trail’ is the road crossing.  I shit you not.  This race is a shufflers dream come true.  It is out and back, so once you hit the turn, there is nowhere to go but home – it’s just really far away.  Although it is a rail trail, there are some differing views as you cover the 50 miles of the course – forests, fields, trestle bridges, towns, lakes, water towers, and of course a Kansas fixture – grain elevators.  It is actually really pretty – no mountain, but pretty in it’s own right.  So that’s the course.  Moving on.

Tip 1:  Run this 100 in quadrants.  They say the best way to eat an elephant is in small bites.  One bite at a time and you will eventually get it done.   Elephant meat might still taste like shit and make you want to puke or give up sometimes, but you will finish eventually.  I feel like the best way to approach this race is in 25(ish) mile chunks.

Chunk 1:  Start(Ottawa) to Garnett
Chunk 2: Garnett to Iola
Chunk 3: Iola to Garnett
Chunk 4: Garnett to Finish Line(Ottawa)

Of course, when shit goes south, fall back on the old, “run aid station to aid station” mantra.  All else fails, just go into survival mode and keep moving and don’t dick around at the aid stations.

Chunk 1:  Start(Ottawa) to Garnett

Start SLOW!!! This course is hella easy, especially at first.  You will want to blaze out of the start and try and keep people from passing you.  DON’T.  If your goal is to simply finish the your overall average pace needs to be 18 minutes per mile – so running 8s at the beginning is just dumb to do because “you’re feeling amazing!”  No shit, it’s the first part of a 100, you are supposed to be feeling good.  Fight the urge to sprint, be disciplined, it will pay massive dividends later.  For those of you looking to sub 24, I would suggest aiming for right at 5:20-5:30 goal for the first 25 miles.  That puts you right around a 13 min/mi pace.  Other tips for this first section – make sure and eat and drink at Princeton and Richmond.  I know you don’t feel like you need it, but if you don’t it will catch up to you later when it warms up.  Next – do not screw around at the train station in Garnett – yeah its cool, but you are racing, not sightseeing.  Do you business and get your ass back on the trail.  Finally, the gravel and dust can be hell on your feet, so consider dumping rocks out of your shoes and even changing socks and shoes as needed.

Chunk 2: Garnett to Iola

This is probably where you may start feeling the miles add up.  Honestly, it is one of my least favorite chunks of the race.  From Garnett to Welda is roughly 8.5 miles.  I always, and I mean ALWAYS, hit a low spot somewhere between 20 and 30 miles, so it is usually in this stretch.  There are more open spaces where the wind can suck, or the sun can fry you – so try and stay cool, hydrated, and don’t forget the sunblock.  Pace-wise, try and maintain roughly the same pace as you did the first 25 mile chunk – and maybe just a tad faster if you are feeling good.  The stretch to get to Colony is another 7.5 miles or so and a lot more of the same.  By this time the relative beauty of the trail will wear off and it will just get boring.  I would suggest running with someone of similar pace (but do NOT press or slow way down just to stay with someone).  Again – if you are gunning for a sub24 – if you can get to the turn at Iola from Garnett in that 5:20-5:30 range it puts you around 10:40 or 11 cumulatively.  This means after a quick stop to gear up for the second half, you have 13 hours for the return trip.  Assuming you have not murdered yourself to get to the turnaround, you will have a good shot at your 24, you will just need to manage a 16ish pace for the 48 miles back to the finish line.  Remember – this course is front loaded with a couple in-town miles (or at least was the first 3 years), so this mileage is ballpark.

Chunk 3: Iola to Garnett

First and most important tip here is get your ass out of the aid station and back on the trail!  Don’t think about how far you have gone and that you now have to do it again.  Don’t think about how much it is going to hurt.  Do what you need to do and move your ass on back to Ottawa.  A checklist of ‘to do’s’ is wise here- don’t want to go without a pre-planned change of shoes or your headlamp if you are going to need it.  When you take care of the necessities, get back on the trail and finish the job.  I always tell myself after turning around that now every step is one step closer the the finish line.   Now you know the course, so it is just a matter of pace management and continuing to fuel the machine.  Eating and drinking becomes critical at this point – even though you might be sick of eating and drinking – force it on yourself so you don’t blow up in the home stretch.  You now have 6 hours to get back to Garnett and leave 7 for the final chunk (which is actually less than 23 miles).  Just keep moving, and since you have been conservative through the first half, you will likely see it start to pay off and get there even ahead of schedule.  Make sure and eat and drink at Colony and Welda, utilize your crew if you have one, and lean on your pacers as needed.  It’s about to get tough – so you have to as well.

Chunk 4: Garnett to Finish Line(Ottawa)

Here is where they separate the 100k’ers from the 100 milers.  Mile 75(ish) to 100 is the hardest part of this (and I think all) 100 milers.  You have come so far, but still have so far to go.  At this point you will need to think aid station to aid station.  It is 9 long ass miles from Garnett to Richmond, so I would mentally run this section in 2 parts.  Have your pacer help you break it up and put a planned 3-5 minute rest about 5 miles in.  It will give you something to shoot for before getting to Richmond.  This section is the hardest for many people.  It is long and dark as hell.  You really start to feel like you will never get to that damn town.  After that, I felt like I started to smell the finish line, and the 6.5 miles to Princeton didn’t seem nearly as bad.  You will probably be walking off and on quite a bit now, but try to keep both your walking and running pace up.  You have plenty of time – 7 hours for 23 miles works out to about 18:15 miles, so just keep moving, alternating walking and shuffling.  Don’t stop unless you have to – and then, do it for only very, very short periods.  Once you get through Princeton, you might find some new life knowing that you only have 7 miles to go – or you might not!  I know at this point was so done, and “I just want to be done.”  My pacer heard that at least 100 times.  I finally got some new life when we got into the edge of town, and we cranked out the last couple miles getting to the finish.  For this last section I say this:  Relentless Forward Progress is the key.  Just keep moving.  You WILL get there if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Lean on your pacer.  Let them be the brains of the operation – and dammit, do what the hell they say!  If you have managed your race well, you should have been able to hold the 16-17 min/mile pace needed to get your “100 in a day”.  If your goal was to just get that under 30 buckle, these same tips apply, just with a slower pace. You can walk, shuffle, jog this course in under 30 hours if you JUST KEEP PRESSING FORWARD.

Epilogue

Nothing about a 100 mile race is short – including a race preview blog.  This was not comprehensive or precise to the minute or half mile, but it does have some great info that you can take and build your own plan.  Good luck – and I hope to see you out there!

 

 

Trail Nerds – “Winter Wyco” Run Toto Run 50K Race Report

A good ultra allows you the opportunity to have fun.  A great ultra supplies a challenge that tests the limits of your abilities.  An outstanding ultra places you head to head against yourself, other PsychoWyco-2016-2064racers, the trail, the elements, and you physical and mental limits – while being supported by a hoard of experienced, enthusiastic volunteers and top-notch race director.  By this standard, the Run Toto Run aka “Winter Wyco” 50K was OUTSTANDING.

The course is by far one of the most demanding in the state of Kansas.  Nearly all single track, it is not the rolling wheat fields that come to mind when the word “Kansas” is uttered.  It is not a mountain course, but it does provide lots of small chunks of technical running, steep (but brief) climbs, sharp winding switchbacks, muddy bridle (horse) trails, and even a nice climb up the grassy Wyandotte County Lake dam.  Most of the course is very runnable and gives you the opportunity to put your speed to the test – if that is your wish.  My training leading up had focused on quality over quantity, speed over distance, and thriving over surviving.  I planned on putting myself to the test, setting a very lofty goal of 5:15 on a trail where my previous best 50K time was 6:45 (albeit very hungover on a 95 degree day).

Usually the weather plays a major factor in this race as it is held in the middle of February in Kansas City.  Those of you familiar with this region know it is usually -70, windy, and miserable  this time of the year.  Not this year!  Goosebumped and shivering, I started in my favorite pair of shorty shorts and short sleeve Nike Dry Fit shirt and my Orange Mud HydraQuiver 2.  While I was uncomfortable at first, I was banking on the 70 degree forecast as well as a bit of additional motivation to move my ass a bit faster to stay warm.  Mission accomplished.  In the first 2 miles of the conga line, I passed at least 60 people and managed to warm my fingers enough to restore blood flow.

Action Shot at the Triangle - Mile 90 Photography
Action Shot at the Triangle – Mile 90 Photography

I had a great first loop, enjoying the relatively mud-less trail and the mild temperatures.  I didn’t utilize the aid stations much since I was wearing a pack filled with my own pre-packed food and 2 bottles – but I did enjoy their encouragement as I passed thru.  The finish line was like a freaking party – with music and beers flowing enthusiastically before 10am. Out-freaking-standing! I had a lap time of about 1:36 – way ahead of my goal average of 1:45 over 3 laps to hit 5:15.

The second loop went great for the most part.  I knew that I had gone out really fast trying to get around the conga line, so I dialed it back and focused on eating and drinking for the push in the final loop and hitting much closer to my 1:45 per lap goal.  The traffic was much thinner this time around and it was comfortably warmer for this trip around the lake.  Pretty uneventful lap and I nailed my goal – hitting the aid station with a lap time of 1:46.  I now had 10 minutes “in the bank”, basically allowing me a full minute per mile slower than goal pace for the final lap and I would hit my target!  Who knows, the shit stayed out of the fan, I might even go 5:05 or better!

Coming out of the aid station and up the hill to the bridle trail, I could tell that the distance was starting to take its toll on me.  I almost ALWAYS hit a low spot about 20 miles into any race, and this was no different.  I battled to keep my pace on target, but my heartrate was telling the tale.  Early in the loop, I knew I couldn’t keep it up for the full 9 remaining miles, so I backed off a little,  scarfed down a few hundred calories and chugged some water.  It was starting to get warm (hot for February) and I suspected I had gotten behind on both food and water.  About the time I hit the big dam hill – mile 25 or so – I was feeling awesome again and put the hammer down.  I ran up the hill to the dam aid station, blew through, and blasted up both of the following hills on the lake road before turning back to the singletrack that winds around behind the dam.  This is where the proverbial “shit” happened.

Literally blasting down the technical singletrack switchbacks, I was fully focused on my footfalls and trying not to donate teeth and flesh to the Wyco Trail Gods.  Pantera had stormed my earbuds full blast and my heart was pumping massive volumes of oxygenated blood.  I was in the zone!  I was in the zone so freaking hard!  So hard I missed the sign. OHHHHHHHH FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDGE! Only, PsychoWyco-2016-4494-XLjust like Ralphie, I didn’t say fudge.  I end up dead-ending at a paved road with no flags to be seen.  Overwhelmed by the adrenaline infused blood thudding my veins I had ended up off trail somehow.  I spent the next 10-15 minutes backtracking, taking more wrong turns, until finally finding the spot I had veered from the correct course.  I spent the next ten minutes or so totally pissed off at myself and pouting like a damn baby.  I was totally on target to nail 5:15 – maybe even better.  Just like the viral news video of the fire victim, my tune changed to “NOT TODAY!!!”.

Getting lost really got in my head and since my time goal was out the window, I adjusted it.  I just wasn’t going to get passed before the end.  I managed to easily stay ahead of anyone seeking to steal a position from me, and after a 2:15 loop, I got across the finish in about 5:35ish, 23rd place overall – still a great time and course PR for me.

Candi, Eric, Alicia and I all stuck around and enjoyed the finish line festivities while waiting to cheer Ryan into the finish.  Ryan finished the 50K with plenty of time to spare even though he felt as bad as he ever had during an ultra.  Candi fought some nausea and still posted a sub 5:45 while Eric completed his first ultra as a 50 year old – under 6:30 – with no hill training!  All in all it was a great day and an IMG_0900outstanding event put on by RD Bad Ben Holmes and the Trail Nerds.  A sweet zipper hoodie, finishers trucker hat, and vanity sticker for the car were all an added bonus to the sweet medal which actually features a spinning tornado!  And don’t forget the amazing photos provided for no additional fee to runners – taken by the best in the business – Mile 90 Photography.  If you have not experienced one of the best trails that Kansas has to offer, I suggest you get this one, or one of the other great Trail Nerds races on Wyandotte County Lake, on your schedule immediately.

 

#22Kill Challenge – 22 Miles, 44 Pounds, 6 Hours

I am not a combat veteran and do not have to cope with PTSD or thoughts of suicide.  I served during a peaceful time and was off active duty completely out of the Army when the shit really hit the fan in 2003.  But I have plenty of old battle buddies who did have to serve multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and are now dealing with the aftershocks.  They are the reason I am doing this.

I got challenged by Darin Brunin on FaceBook for the 22 days of 22 pushups for the #22kill movement.  Here’s the idea…

‪#‎22kill‬ doing ‪#‎22PushUps‬. I am pushing in an attempt to raise awareness to the fact that 22 AMERICAN VETERANS will commit suicide today!
Losing 22 of our vets a day is unacceptable. Politics aside we need to reach out and help, especially if our government is not supplying the support that these men and women need and deserve.
Please spread the word that veteran suicide is not the answer!
The organizations at the links below are raising the bar in creating a culture that OUR Veterans know their sacrifice was not in vain. To participate visit
www.22kill.com
Share this noble cause
http://www.honorcouragecommitment.org
This organization promotes Veteran Entrepreneurship. Help spread the word.

IMG_0918So here you go Darin.  Well, unfortunately I hate push-ups.  I also am not disciplined enough to post a video every day like the challenge required.  But I did come up with what I feel like is a suitable replacement.  At this Saturday’s Angry Bull 6hr Endurance Run,  I will load up an old-school Army rucksack with 44 pounds and run 22 miles (well try at least) in the 6 hour event.  I will make a video at the end and I will also make a $100 donation to  http://www.honorcouragecommitment.org and challenge you to donate as well.  Select from one of these vetted charities and give what you can.  You could save a life.  At a minimum, help me out by sharing this and helping bringing some further awareness to PTSD and veteran suicide.

Run Toto Run “Winter Wyco” Race Preview

Ever wondered what the Run Toto Run “Winter Wyco” Trail run is all about?  Here is my take on a great race put on by the KC Trail Nerds!

Wyandotte County Lake Park
Kansas City, KS

12th Annual
The 50K, 10-Mile and 20-Mile courses are a loop course on rocky, rooty, and hilly bridle trails & single-track trails.
Time limit: 9 hours for 50K & 20M; 8 hours for 10M.
Start Times: 8:00 AM for 50K and 20-mile, 9:00 a.m. for 10-miler.

2016 White Rock Classic 50K Race Report

IMG_0815
Hazy Mountain View

On a briskly cool, yet not terribly uncomfortable February morning, about a hundred runners met up at the base of White Rock Mountain near the Turner Bend Store near Mulberry Arkansas to put their running (and mountain climbing) abilities to the test.  This fatass style (yet extremely well supported) 50K race is a part of the AURA Ultra Trail Series.  The Arkansas Ultra Runners Association (AURA) puts on the Arkansas Traveller 100, Ouachita 50 mile, and other great events in the state.  They have been doing this since 1989 – and definitely know what the hell they are doing.  As far as I could tell the only difference between this and a full-on “race” is no entry fee, official timing, shirt or medal.  All of which I am more than happy to live without.  It does have all the spirit and soul of a great, low-key ultra – which is definitely infinitely more important to me than the medal or shirt.  So, yeah, I love it.

IMG_0812This is my second consecutive year running the White Rock Classic.  Last year, coming off my best EVER winter training blocks, I knocked off my fastest 50K time – just under 5:30 – and it took literally everything I had.  While the terrain on a forest road course suits a faster runner, the 5000 feet of steep mountain climbing, and fast descents definitely add the challenge to the course.  Coming off a very solid 6 weeks of training, I was hoping to get close to last years time.  I had been eating very clean, lost some weight, and added a lot of high intensity cardio and strength training in with my normal training plan.  I felt like I had a good shot at having a solid day.

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Zach, Candi, Johnny and Ryan

With a 9am start time we decided on just getting up early to drive in for the start.  Despite starting 10 minutes behind our planned schedule, we picked up Ryan and Johnny on the way and made it easily with about 30 minutes to spare -plenty of time to get final race prep done.  Lisa Gunnoe gave the pre-race instructions and a few resounding gong strikes signaled the start of the race.  Yes, a guy called “Bear”  rang an actual gong.  The start of the race is basically 3 miles up the base of the mountain.  Candi and I planned to stay together at least the first few to enjoy each others company and warm up nice and easily.  I have a bad habit of taking out too fast and paying for it later.  I kept telling myself that it would pay dividends later in the race and I could pass some fools who had taken off (like I usually do) as if they had been blasted out of a shotgun.  We reached the top of that first big climb and Candi and I were separated as I blasted off down the hill.  I felt warm and loose and let it rip.  For the rest of the way up to the White Rock Mountain overlook area that served as the turnaround, I just kept a nice rhythmic pace climbing and blasted the downs – keeping my legs moving fast trying to avoid pounding my quads.  A majority of the climbing is in the first half of the out-and-back and I didn’t want to burn all my downhill mojo in the first half.  Ultimately, I passed several people on my way to the top of the mountain, never getting passed myself.  I was just shy of my halfway goal of 2:30, signing in at 2:33.

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Candace takes the lead!

Lo and behold, my gorgeous wife had been right behind me most of the way – keeping me in her sights almost the entire trip up the mountain.  Turns out we pass face to face about 500 yards after the turn!  She said she was feeling great and running great – and I remind her that she is first female and is to, under no circumstances, let ANY of the ladies pass her!  The final push to the top of White Rock is super steep and in and out-and-back course, what goes up must come down.  The threeish mile descent after turning around is steep and fast!  Candi actually caught me by the bottom and was flat FLYING! My hips felt pretty trashed at this point (mile 18-19) so I took a few “vitamin I” and she pulled away.  I wished her well, pretty sure I would NOT be seeing her again until the finish line.

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Female CHAMPION~

As usually happens in ultras, I experienced several ups and downs.  About mile 22 I was having a pretty solid “down” and was really getting my ass kicked by another steep descent.  Regardless of the craptastic place I was in my life at this moment – I refused to walk and just let gravity hammer me to the bottom.  I told myself I would eat a lot at the aid station at the bottom and drink some ginger ale.  I did exactly that, and it soaked in like a potion of healing as I climbed my way out of the aid station.  At this point the food, pop, ibuprofen all kicked in at the same time and I never slowed down again.  I caught up with the 25 year old physical specimen Johnny at about mile 26 and finally my wife with about 3 miles to go the finish.  We run together for half a mile or so, but I pull away on the last sets of hills – feeling like a beast unleashed and bearing down on its prey.  I IMG_0834passed 4 people in the last 5 miles or so and was smelling the finish line.  Doing math during a race is not my strong point, but I figured it might just be possible to sub-5 hour this race if I could really put the hammer down.  I gave it absolutely EVERYTHING I HAD the last three miles running splits of 7:30, 6:53, and 7:01 – unfortunately it was just not quite enough.  I finished in 5:01:41 in 7th place overall, less than 1 minute ahead of Candi who took the female win!

The weather, course, and most of all people were totally awesome.  This race brings out some serious speedsters and I was totally honored and surprised that I was able to take that much off of my previous time and get into the top ten of this group.  I would encourage anyone who loves the outdoors to come run this race – it truly is a gem.  Thanks to Lisa, PoDog, and the rest of the AURA members and leadership that put this together – it really is one of my favorite events of the year and on my “do every year” list.  Hope to see you all next year!