Thursday, June 19, 2008


I mentioned in my KM100 race report that I would follow up with a "lessons learned" here it is:

Lesson #1
Run your own race.
Everybody hears this all the time, but how many people really follow this rule? Keying off somebody else is common in shorter races and I did this all the time in the years I competed in Nordic skiing and triathlon. The 100 is just is, at least for me. I followed this rule very well, most of the time, but there was one time at about the 80 mile mark, three runners encouraged me to stay with them and I paid dearly for it. I ended up walking the next 10 miles after pushing myself to run somebody else's pace. I found that my body had highs and lows and when I flexed with the way I felt, everything seemed to work itself out. I had to let the three runners go on ahead but because I slowed down and worked through the low, I was able to run again and actually passed them with about 3 miles to go.

Lesson #2
Ice is good.
In a hot race, ice is your best friend. Ice in your hat. Ice in a bandanna. Ice in your shorts. Ice in your water bottle. As Adam mentioned in his in your Moeben arm sleeves. Ice is good.

Lesson #3
Be flexible in your nutrition plan, but have a plan.
I was able to stay on plan most of the time but the heat caused me to stray slightly in that I needed to take in most of my calories in liquid or gel form. Ensure meal replacement drink worked very well, but I would try it on training runs first to make sure your stomach handles it. It has 250 calories per serving and I had no problems drinking the entire serving. As the race progressed I had a hard time with the gels or anything sweet. Solid foods like grilled cheese and pancakes went down well once the temps moderated. Chicken noodle soup was a fantastic night time snack. I also drank less of my Succeed energy drinks and more water as the race went on. However, I was able to "force" gels and energy drinks down out of necessity and they never upset my stomach and always gave me the even energy I was looking for. I found that when my gut felt a little empty and my energy fell just slightly, it was a signal to take in, at minimum, a gel and some water or energy drink. These signals for me were very subtle, and to some degree I guess I have learned my nutritional needs from past races, but I believe it helped me in this longer race.

Lesson #4
When you think you can't run really can, you just don't know it yet.
Just keep moving forward and soon enough your energy will come back to you...hopefully. At about the 85 mile mark I was resigned to the fact that I would be trying to power walk the rest of the way home. This is what I did for 10 miles, but two well placed aid stations( with soup and "pigs in a blanket") and the fact that the sun was coming up, helped me to get my energy back and I actually ran the last five miles at a decent pace. I would never have believed 10 miles earlier that I would be running you may be able to sneak in a few more miles even when it seems impossible.

Lesson #5
It is not scary to run in the woods at night and trees do make a sound when they fall.
I found that the headlamp I was using was adequate for running on trail and in some cases fairly technical trail. Some of the "foot grabbers" were difficult to distinguish with L.E.D. light and in my case light shining from eye level. I read somewhere that a handheld can help the rocks in the trail stand out a little more because the light is shinning from a lower plane across the tops, creating better shadows. I had a handheld in my pack in case of technical issues but I never had to use it. It seemed like I was running in a world about 6 feet wide and 15 feet long the entire night. It was difficult to see the terrain changes and I never seemed to know how long a hill was (could be a good thing at the Sawtooth 100). And yes, trees do make a sound when they fall in the woods. I heard a very big one fall at about 1:30am and it was way too close for comfort.

Lesson #6
Boudreaux's Butt Paste + compression shorts + 100 miles + huge volumes of rain = no chaffing!
Nuff said.

Lesson #7
Blisters suck!
Yes they do, and when your feet look like prunes from the rain that just won't stop falling, it is pretty hard to dry them out and tape them properly. I know now that I have a problem area on the ball of my left foot that will need to be taped in certain conditions. In this case, I would have pre-taped my foot before the race and prayed that it would stay on through 16 hours (4pm-8am) of rain and wet trails. I also had 4 shoe changes if I needed (I only used 2 because it just kept on a rainnin') , and I actually talked to one runner who had 7 and used them all. My recommendation would be to put together a good foot kit and buy John Vonhof's- Fixing Your Feet. Learn and be could save your race.

Lesson #8 Never underestimate having a good crew. My crew was vital to my performance out on the trail. They always had what I needed, ready and waiting at the "crew accessed" aid stations. My crew happened to be my wife Michelle, my son Jakob (15) and my daughter Hanna (3.5), but it could be anybody who is interested in helping you. In my case, at the 62 mile mark, after being at one of my lowest points in the race, tired, sore and chilled standing in the rain preparing for what I knew was going to be a long cold wet night, it was my crew who walked me back out on the course and got me going again. Thanks crew, you guys are awesome!

I may think of more but these are the lessons that stand out from my first 100 mile experience.
One thing I will say...everyone is different and what works for me may not necessarily work for others. Hopefully this gives some ideas to try before or during your next event.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Kettle Moraine 100 Race Report

I’ve been sitting at the computer staring at the screen not really knowing how to start this race report. I am still processing everything that has happened over the last couple of days and I hope I can just get all these thoughts down in a readable format.

My family and I arrived at the packet pickup, which was situated in the back yard of the La Grange general store, on Friday evening. We met up with Matt and his family and chatted while the kids ran around in the yard.

The race began in the usual low key ultra fashion and I was finally starting what I had been planning to do for months, run 100 miles. The first 7.5 miles is run on wide Nordic ski trails, which is nice when you have a couple hundred people starting together in a trail race. I was happy to hit the single track of the Ice Age Trail just after Bluff aid station (mile 7.5) and it was beautiful terrain.

The run was fairly uneventful for quite some time and I was enjoying the scenery of southern Wisconsin. Then came a section of trail about 10 miles long that was mostly in open meadows with very little tree cover and I realized it was going to be a brutal day of running. I felt fine at the time but it was getting hot and it was steamy. I was happy to see Michelle, Jakob and Hanna (my crew) at the highway 67 aid station (mile 23.9) and they had all of my supplies ready to go and got me out running again quickly.

During the next section I started having a queasy stomach and I decided to up my electrolyte intake to 1 S-cap every 45 minutes instead of 1/hr. It seemed like a long haul to get to the first out and back turnaround at 31 miles but I was happy to be headed back the other direction after getting some supplies from my crew.

I saw Matt on the way back and he indicated that he was having a tough time with the heat and that he was thinking of dropping at the turnaround. I said to hang in there and re-evaluate after resting for a bit. After reading his blog, I believe he made a wise decision in light of the signs and symptoms of heat related illness.

Michelle started getting worried about me after seeing Matt at the 31 mile mark and she decided to bring me my bandana that can carry ice to the next aid station. I gladly accepted the bandana and once around my neck it made a huge difference in how I felt.

After getting one more chance to fuel up at the highway 67 aid station (mile 39) I was ready but not excited to run the open fields…again. This time the heat was unrelenting and I was slowed to a walk on a few occasions but I continued to move forward and eventually made it to Emma Carlin (mile 47.3). My crew had a shoe change ready and I worked on one blister that was developing on the side of my left foot. Fresh socks and shoes brought some life back to my legs. Put more ice in the bandana, drank an Ensure and I even had Hanna (3.5 yrs) as an escort for the first 50 yards on the way back out on the trail. She thinks she is faster than dad and at that point I think she was.

Hot one minute, torrential down pours the next, it seemed like Mother Nature wanted to have a say in how this race would turn out. It started sprinkling at first but from the sounds of thunder in the distance, it just felt like we were going to get some serious weather. Soon it was raining steady and it felt great to get the cooling effect of the water. But as is rained harder and harder the trails started filling with water and on any hills it became running streams…so much for the fresh socks and shoes. At one point a 25 ft. pine tree fell across the trail about 10 feet in front of another runner with me right behind. We both stopped, looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and said “that was close,” and kept running.

Running the flats and down hills and walking the up hills is what I did until reaching the Nordic aid station at mile 62. I slowed quite a bit because my feet and quads were starting to hurt. It was nice to see Michelle and the kids but it was also 8pm and I knew I would be heading out in the dark so I gathered my headlamp, backup flashlight, wind jacket, refueled and…more rain. This was the weakest point in the race for me, I was cold, tired, sore, hungry and I knew I could just call it a day and even get counted as a 100 Kilometer race finisher, and be back at the hotel in 15 min. But I was prepared for this and I also coached Michelle to try to keep me motivated, and that’s when she said they would walk me out for a little while on the trail. Bingo, game on.

My legs loosened up after a short distance and I was back to running. Soon it was dark and I was running with a headlamp. I was able to run pretty well in the dark and I was able to run the next 10 miles to the Duffin Rd. aid station (mile 72.8). Sometime in the next mile is when my legs turned to cement and refused to run…so I walked and as I walked it stormed and dumped another round of rain onto the already muddy trails and runners.

I made it to the Hwy 12 aid station around midnight and Michelle was waiting for me with any food or gear that I needed. It was nice just to have someone on the course for moral support. At times the lows can be pretty low and the highs are not much above the lows so crews can make a big difference. Some runners had pacers (runners that accompany a competitor) but I decided not to use one. I didn’t mind being on my own most of the time and when I did join up with others it was a nice change.

Soon I was at the Rice Lake aid station (mile 81.5) and it was at this point I knew I would finish barring any bizarre occurrence. I hooked up with three guys from Illinois on the trail back to Hwy 12 and I really had to dig deep and push myself to keep up with the 15 minute/mile walking pace they had going. After some soup and a brief rest at the aid station I went out ahead of them knowing that I could not keep up that pace any longer and they would soon catch me. It was after loosing contact with the runners from Illinois that I first tried listening to my ipod…for one song. I just couldn’t do it. I was having too much fun listening to all the creatures in the forest and swamps, so I took it off and it will probably never be carried in a race again.

I would tell myself, “just keep moving forward,” as I slogged along to the Bluff aid station (mile 92.8) at first light. I ate some soup and kept on going…knowing that they were making pancakes at the Tamarack aid station. It was a long 2.3 miles but well worth the effort for a taste of those pancakes. The only solid foods that I ate the whole day were from this aid station, grilled cheese sandwiches and pancakes. Mary Gorski (who is running Badwater this year) handed me a “pancake rollup,” a pancake with sausage and syrup inside, and I ate it as I headed back out on the trail. I also drank 2 cups of coke and this was the magic combination that gave my legs some life.

I was actually able to start running again, even with badly blistered feet, and according to my GPS watch I was clipping along at 11-12 minutes per mile. It helps knowing that the finish is only 5 miles away. It seemed like it took forever, but no time at all, to run the last miles…sort of a contradiction as time seemed blurred by all the events of the day and night and day again.

I rounded the corner leading into the finish area and I could see Michelle, Hanna, Jakob and a few volunteers and spectators (family waiting for their runners) and they started to cheer. It was a good feeling to finally be done with what had become a very difficult day for all the runners involved. Official time: 25:25:17 (15th place).

On a final note I would like to thank the race directors Timo and Jason for organizing an outstanding event and to all the volunteers out on the course that had to endure some crazy weather to make this event possible.

My next blog entry will detail my lessons learned from doing this event.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Off to the races

One last note before heading off the the KM100...there is a webcast that will attempt to give some checkpoint times and possibly some other information about the race as it is happening.

Planning on arriving in the area tomorrow evening for race packet pick-up and last minute preparations...which include a swim in the hotel pool with the kids!

Time to go run...race report to follow.

Monday, June 2, 2008

So close

When the expiration date on a jug of milk is past the date of a big's time to step up and be ready. Counting the days on one hand makes me nervous. My first 100 is so close it has become a constant daily distraction. I haven't been this amped up and excited about a race since 2001, when I competed in Ironman USA in Lake Placid, NY. This is what I was looking for out of a big event like this...something beyond the hardest thing I have done so far. Bring it on.

Last week I ran 30.5 miles on the heels of a 76 mile week which was preceded by the Superior 50K. This was my lowest weekly mileage since the second week of February! It feels good, but now I know why I usually have a short taper...I am so antsy I almost can't stand it. A two week taper seems like it is working for me, but I can't help but feel like I am loosing my edge on training. I know I'm not, but this is a mental game I always play during a taper period. I know my body is loving the rest...I can feel all the little nagging aches and pains that had become "normal" going away.

This week is very easy mileage wise, with a couple of 6 milers and a 10 miler tomorrow. I am a morning runner but I have been trying to run in the "heat" of the afternoon when the temps present themselves. This has been a challenge because of the cool spring. I don't know how much more I can acclimate for an 80 degree day on Saturday...but I figure it can't hurt.

Here is a quote by Triathlon Legend Scott Tinley:

"To some extent, we are all labeled by what we're able to achieve. But more importantly, we are defined by what we attempt." --Scott Tinley

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Minneapolis, MN, United States