Sunday, April 15, 2018

Ultra Spirit - #268 Nourishment

#268 Nourishment

As an addict, stop for a moment and think of nourishment. Nourish is a lovely word. Maybe it is time to yearn, to long for nourishment of body, mind and spirit. Not another bag of chips or another TV program or church. Over fed on society's food, we are starving.

Feel what it would be like to have an infusion of super food to body, mind and spirit. It comes from within. Feel it filling you

Right now, take down your belief barriers. Stop dis-sing yourself. Feel an infusion of goodness, of inner nourishment coming from the boundary of creative light, new energy just for you.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Brazos Bend 50k

I would like to write a story of gratitude. But first a picture. A picture at the finish to remember the moment.

I got up with the alarm at 3:25. Excellent. No moaning and groaning and not wanting to go. I felt well.

I need to digress on wellness. I'd like to explain that I do not have the flu. I think my flu shot did the job. I was heavily exposed to a person who did have the flu this week, but didn't get it. Or maybe it was just that my higher self did not have "flu" on its agenda, but getting stoked on a 50k finish instead.

I did some distracted spiritual focusing, gathered my stuff and drove the hour to the park. Brazos Bend is a beautiful park with many large old trees, and is home to many alligators. Though the gators were mostly hiding today.

The day started out warm, 73F, with a light rain. I started out the first half of the race running 11:30 miles. I got in a little bit of chatting with my friend Donna. But then was on my own. My shirt and pants became soaked. The wind kicked up and the temps started to fall. In my pit stop at half way, I drank an Ensure, and grabbed some more gels and a Clif bar. I debated about grabbing my jacket but decided that since my shirt was wet, I'd rather the wind dried it. Anyway, it shouldn't get that cold. This is Texas.

For the second half, I did 3 x 2s ; that is 3 min run 2 min walk. It was after all a 50k. I started to get cold. The wind kept blowing heavy mist. My shirt stayed wet. At about 21 miles, my drop bag was within a quarter of a mile detour so I went and got it. Wasted a little time, but was glad to warm up. Temperatures had dropped more than 20 degrees.

The last 10 miles are a long out and back. As I get to the turn around, I'm amazed that even with the walk breaks, I'm really fast. I wonder if the course is wrong, but it is exactly the same as last year and they do wheel the courses. Well, since it is cold, much colder than last year, I am running very good.

So I come whipping in to the finish in 6:29 clock time, 6:16 garmin time (which doesn't include the pit stops). Since I had several pit stops and the detour to get the jacket, the clock time is amazing. And I feel very good. I am just amazed. That is my best 50k time for 8 or nine years (I'm 59 now).

The day was nice and cool. I was a little rested. Nothing wrong with my feet. I've lost about 4 pounds. My marathon 3 weeks ago was good training. Anyway, I'm stoked.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Saturday, February 24, 2018

49% Race Report - Jackalope Jam

How did I end up continuing my hate relationship with the Jackalope Jam? The first 2 years it was on a course with ruts and I ended up with amazing bad blisters. Even though the second year I planned only to run a marathon, the damage was done. I was smart enough not to sign up the third year. They had moved the race to a treeless course under the April Texas sun. The 4th year? This year? I wanted to run a timed event. This one was in Texas (no airfare required). They moved it to February, so maybe the heat would not be a problem. I didn't know that I would get into Snowdrop, so Jackalope was a second choice. I had a discount code. Bammo, click submit, many months ago.

Fast forward: I had an amazing 50 mile race in October in nice cold Kansas. I had an amazing Snowdrop, completing the 100 miles. So I had high expectations for Jackalope. The video of the course looked ok. I got a hotel room. My training and overall physical shape is good: high hopes for getting 100k.

Before the race began:

I sounded great didn't I?

After more than 8:39 hours of racing, I got 32 miles.

Here is my video after day 1.

The wheels came off. Somehow, I think I was using much more energy jumping around between ruts in the road to avoid other people and rocks. The afternoon turned out hot, into the 80s, so maybe I didn't hydrate enough. There was no big issues with blisters. But after 28 miles, I gave up the jogging. I felt lousy. I didn't want to eat, a sure sign of heat related issues. So I walked up to my B goal of halfway to 100k.

I went to my hotel and showered. I found myself very much wanting to eat my burritos and fruit. As the evening progressed, I realized that I didn't have any reason physically not to continue the race in the morning. What I didn't have was a driving motivation to continue. In fact, I was viewing another 31 miles on that course as 8+ plus hours of hell. More ruts, more people. Smelly, too full porta potties. Another 90 people on a crummy course meant I couldn't pick the easiest parts of the road. The belt buckle wasn't very shiny. Essentially, I had no thing I wanted to work for. Instead I thought I'd just be pissed off all day.  I laid in bed from 3 am to 4 am trying to decide what to do. Finally I realized that I didn't have 51% yes. It was a close decision, but I was at least 51% no.

Now I run ultras at all because of how it feels when you get one done. But the motivation to finish has to be there the whole time. Being pissed off won't buy me what I'm looking for.

So I didn't go back to the race. I came home. There are more races on my schedule and one more day to this weekend.

There is something about me that wants to do more in life than be employed and then die. Ultra running, or even marathoning, gives that to me. But I also have other dreams. Maybe finishing ultras is a way to satisfy my dreaming nature until it is time to quit my job. The question of exactly when to quit my job is on my mind alot. The time is soon.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Snowdrop Ultra 55

I won't lie to you. I've wanted one of these buckles since 2014. I entered the race that year, but did not finish the 100 miles. I only got 45 miles; and my knee wouldn't work after that. So I dropped.

Here is the 2018 version with the shirt; which I now own.

So the race lurked in my mind quietly for several years. In April this year, I did a 50k in a great time and I felt great after; I wondered if I could do 50 miles or even try a timed 100 again.

I started to watch for Snowdrop entry to open. Opening was midnight on June 28. That night, I was laying awake in bed at 1:30 am thinking how I would enter in the morning. I decided to enter right then and maybe I could go to sleep. It was already 65% full. It filled by 8 am.

But, I'm IN!!

I signed up for a rails-to-trails 50 mile race October 28. It went really really well. I was surprised. I did a 50k on December 16. It went really well. I decided I'm ready for Snowdrop.

On December 24 I went to the Snowdrop course and ran for about an hour. While I was there, two of the race directors showed up. They explained everything to me and gave me a tour. On Monday December 25, I thought it would be ok if I just didn't go. I even drafted an e-mail to the RD saying to give my ticket to someone on the wait list; but I never sent it. I decided to go running first. For one hour, I was sure I would skip the race. Then I was thinking about how I was making an emotional decision, projecting how unhappy cold mud and porta-potties are. Then after 2 hours, I got this tiny little thought: what is so bad about just going one day and seeing how things are? Uh.... what a concept, don't quit without even giving yourself a chance. You can't get to day 2 if you don't go to day 1. You can't get to day 3 if you don't go to day 2.

By Wednesday, I realized: you can't finish if you never start. I decided I would get my butt to the starting line.period. Then, the day before the race, I decided I would get 61 laps done (42 miles) but no other commitment.

This race is a mental race. The course is flat and short. It is not a beautiful dramatic thing like Hardrock; but there will still be blood and tears as each racer meets their own limitations. The whole problem of finishing is mental. Hence, it is unknown territory. I am a notorious quitter. But I am better now than have ever been.

You can't have a journey if you never start.
You can't have grit if you let your fear keep you home.

I went to packet pick up with a box containing about 10 lbs of old race medals. Snowdrop Foundation puts new ribbons on these and hands them out to kids with cancer; "Bling for Bravery."

Day 1: I'm at the race site very early. I was awake most of the night worried about getting a parking spot in the A lot. Driving to the race, I heard a story on the radio about a girl who fell off a cliff while riding her bicycle and almost died; and how she got a love of life itself during the experience. She learned not to just go from thing to thing, but to live each moment as a precious time. Perfect. I need to enjoy this race, not just hope to get it over as soon as possible. Journey they said.

The weather might rain but it is pretty warm. I claim a good spot along the course for my wagon and chair. Eventually, the race starts. I planned to run 3 minutes and walk 2 minutes until I got to 61 laps (42 miles). I did well with this until about 34 miles when I decided to walk the last 15 laps. The course was half concrete and this was taking a toll on my lower back and knees. So I shut down the running. I was on course moving forward about 11 hours and a little. Lots of pit stops to grab food, shift garmins, porta-potty, etc. It did rain for about 30 minutes so I got to use my new umbrella. I was very tired after the 30 min drive home.

Snowdrop Foundation helps kids with cancer. All around the course they have pictures of little kids with cancer. Some say, "In honor of  ____" Some say, "In memory of _____" (Oh, these are the ones who didn't make it). Some say, "Survivor ____" In any case, looking at these pictures made my choke up repeatedly all during the race.

I resolved to show up for day 2, but no expectations on performance. I ate a big bowl of vegetarian cuisine for dinner. I didn't sleep real great.

Day 2: I got to the course and started running at 5:17 am. I was surprised that my legs felt good. So I again did 3 minutes jog and 2 min walk. I slowed down my running speed to lessen the impact. I did real well, with too many pit stops. The weather was pretty warm, but a heavy mist. I was getting wet and had to use a rain shell.

They had some new signs on the course. Here is my favorite:

They also had a sign that said, "They didn't say it would be easy but they did say it would be worth it." These two signs helped me alot mentally.

I must have been a cranky pants a good part of day 2. Some people started finishing. I got to see the things they do for each and every person who gets to 100 miles. All I thought was I don't want all that fuss. Just give me my buckle and let me go. Cranky Pants!!!  Better I finish on day 3 when I won't be so cranky.

I got the second batch of 61 laps done. Another 11 hours on course. The shoes I used for day 2 weren't exactly right. These shoes had caused some problems with one of my toe nails. After I got home, I figured out what to do about that (and used a different pair of shoes for day 3).

I was now up to 84 miles. I knew that come hell or high water, I would finish those last 16 miles, even if I had to crawl.

Day 3: Again, I didn't sleep very much. After 84 miles, my body felt a little beat up. Nothing was broken, but I kept feeling little twinges of pain here or there. My hips weren't happy, so I couldn't lie comfortably. But I had the alarm set for 3 am; and when it went off, I was up and at 'em.

I started forward motion at 4:45. It was very cold. Many people were still on course. Many of these people were walking very slowly and maybe limping.

I, on the other hand, was amazed at the recuperative power of laying in bed for a few hours. I was well enough to again do the 3 minutes jog and 2 minutes walk. I was doing really good. It was very cold and windy, but this didn't seem to bother me.

I had to be patient. It was still going to take a few hours to finish 16 miles. Don't screw up now. But I was excited to see my lap count get closer and closer. And I was feeling better and better. I couldn't believe I was actually going to finish this thing. It had taken alot to get to this point.

At 143 laps, I could hear them mention my name. The RD asked me how many laps as I went by. I said 2 more. She said, "Next lap is your bell lap?" I said, "Yes." She wrote something on her clip board. I kept going but started to cry real tears. Even as I type this now, I'm crying. I was going to finish that race. I finished the final 16 miles (23 laps) in about 3:45.

I am not a quitter!

They actually have a big bell that you ring for your last lap (in honor of a cancer patient completing treatment). As I came through the race crew was again saying my name. I rang the bell. Then, I ran most of the last lap. The crew was watching for me as I came around. They hold a finishers tape for everyone. They announce on the loud speaker. The RD even said it was my first 100 miler (true), and that I almost quit earlier in the week.

Here I am getting my buckle.

This was an experience of a lifetime. Worth it!

A word about me and timed ultras. Why did I go home? Well, for many races, when something goes wrong, my brain is too worn out to fix any problems. All I do is quit, usually with 50 miles. But, when I get home, I realize what I could have done. So this time, I just planned to go home, even though it was a 35 minute drive. Indeed, after day 2, I had some repairs to do on toes and at home, I had the resources.

Also, I know what part of my problem with 100 mile races is. After about 35 - 40 miles, I am not interested in more running. If it is a 50 mile race, I'll tough it out. But I fail to see the point of walking slowly in pain for 65 miles. I admire people who do it, but I can't seem to do it myself.

Monday, November 20, 2017

La Porte Half Marathon

Big announcement: I ran a half marathon today. I am super pleased with my time: 2:13. Because I didn't try that hard. Because I don't train at 10:13/mile speeds. And because it was 3 minutes faster than 2 years ago, the last time I ran that race. And also because in less than 2 months I'll be 59 years old. That seems old, yet here I am. I ran a half marathon.

People always want to know how fast I was. I'm usually embarrassed to say because my time is not great. I'm pleased with it, but it is not in and of itself impressive. Racing is not about winning; although I am competitive. Racing is fun. I saw one or two people I knew, but racing is not really a social event. I don't have people cheering for me at the finish line. I race for myself.

My last race, in October, was a 50 mile ultra marathon with less than 100 people entered. This half marathon had 3,700 people entered and I ran fast. The 50 miles took 12.5 hours. The half marathon took about 2.25 hours. One race went out and back between two rows of trees on a rails to trails course through the Kansas countryside. The other went over a humongous bridge over the Houston ship channel. Such different races. But both gave a sense of satisfaction from the accomplishment.

Yesterday in the half marathon, my Garmin thought I blew off over 1,400 calories. Today, the day after, I did a slow walk jog for 17 miles and used only 1,380 calories. So, yes, my half marathon tired me out; as much as a 50 mile race.

Both races stick in my heart. Different but valuable experience. That is why I do it: it feels good to have the experience.