Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Average Joe

I had some friends participate in last weekends Average Joe Triathlon in Perham. They tried to get me to do it and I am now kind of regretting that I didn't as it looked like a lot of fun. The swim, which a lot of people fear the most, was short and the water wasn't very deep so if you needed to push off the bottom you could. I don't have a fancy road bike, well, it was fancy when it was new in the early 80's, but I don't think that would have mattered much as I saw people there using mountain bikes with big knobby tires. Maybe I'll update my bike with a carbon fiber seat and I'll be ready to go. No matter what, it looked like my kind of event. Laid back and friendly. Yes there were the hardcore triathletes there and all of the competitors worked their butts off, but you could sense that the event was more about coming together than putting someone behind you. Lot's of laughing, lot's of fun but still a true test for everyone. There were a lot of first time triathletes. You gotta start somewhere. I'll do this event next year on my bike that is older than most of the competitors. Then maybe I'll update to some carbon fiber front forks.

Friday night I will be off to the Twin Cities to participate in the Afton Trail Run which is a hilly 50k ultra marathon. This was the place of my first ultra just 3 years ago and still one of my favorites. They offer a 25k event as well and between the 25k and 50k they have a capacity of 500 runners and usually fills up.

As an added bonus, 4 of us will be traveling together. Tim and Jarod will be doing the 50k and Jon the 25k. With my recovery being slow since the Kettle Moraine event, I really don't know how my body is going to respond to the 6,600 feet of elevation loss/gain and the warm July temps. As always, I'll start out slow, take what the trail will give me and hopefully stay injury free.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blood Donation

My body is still in recovery from the Kettle Moraine event and with a couple weeks to go before the Afton Trail run, I thought now would be a good time to donate blood. I haven't been able to donate in almost a year, as every time I would go to donate, my heart rate would be too low. I tried going in the a.m., after a work out, in the middle of the day, and after supper, but nothing seemed to work. When I'm in recovery, the heart rate is up a bit so I made an appointment for right after work hoping it would be above 45bpm which is the minimum. I swallowed my last swig of coffee just before leaving work and after parking, jogged into the building to donate. I sat in the waiting room for 5 minutes trying to stay keyed up before they took me back and asked me all the goofy questions and do a blood draw as well as take my blood pressure, temperature and pulse. I made it. It was 50. Thank you Juan Valdez.

An Ultra Friend of mine, Ben Clark, who finished the KM100 just 2 weeks ago, is running another 100 this weekend. The Big Horn 100 in Wyoming. Ben, being a college student, has a pretty busy running schedule this summer as it's hard for him to get away during the school year. I will be excited to hear how he did.

Also, many friends from the area are running Grandma's in Duluth. I hope to get there someday as I've heard very good things about the event, except for the cost of hotel rooms. I did a 100k event in Duluth last fall, but the draw isn't quite the same as Grandma's 10,000+ participants, so the hotel room rates are decent. There were 12 finishers in the 100k. I guess 62 miles on the Superior Hiking Trail isn't appealing to most. I felt fortunate to be a part of it.

And then there is the Red River International Bike Tour (RRIBT ) that starts next week, which a couple friends of mine are doing. On Monday, Jon and Erin will leave Grand Forks and make a 57 mile trek to Mayville. And if that is not enough to make your butt ache, on Tuesday they travel 78 miles to Valley City, Wednesday 53 miles to Cooperstown, Thursday 45 miles to Hatton and then just 44 more miles Friday to the finish in East Grand Forks. And they say running more than 26.2 miles is crazy. I'm walking bowlegged just thinking about sitting on a bike for that long. I'm hoping for nice weather for them.

As for me, no running events this weekend as I'm headed to the lakes after work tonight and coming back home tomorrow for a get together with some of the local ultra runners. Next week will be a tough week - back in the saddle and building for the 6,600 feet of elevation up and down of Afton in a couple weeks.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Wife's View of the Kettle Moraine 100

I asked Kristy to give her take on the Kettle Moraine 100. She brought a book to read while I was out having fun and never cracked it once. I think she probably has more stories than I do. Here is what she had to say:

What I learned during the Kettle Morraine 100

· I Love Wisconsin – Hills, trees, and multiple “Cheese” signs

· It ‘s a great help to drive to the aid stations the day before the race to get acclimated to the driving route between aid stations

· Sprinting off the starting line isn’t needed at the beginning of an ultra

· Aid station workers are wonderful. I saw more than a few runners brought back to life after sitting on a chair in front of a propane heater with warm chicken noodle soup in hand

· Green olives must be good for refueling during an ultra

· Four people I spoke with had run either the half or full marathon during the Fargo Marathon in May 2010. All had really nice things to say about their experience.

· The usual token person, upon hearing that we were from Fargo, mentioned the movie, “Fargo”.

· A bull frog croak sounds like a cow mooing

· A person can see the look of pride when speaking with a crew member of another runner as well as see their genuine concern for yours

· Seven inches of rain in six hours is a crazy amount of rain and a real challenge for trail running.

· Some phrases that runners do not respond to “Daddy, did you fall down?” and “ Oh, you’re dirty” and “Quit walking like Grandpa!”

· Paper bags and rain don’t mix. Crew transporting gear to aid stations in paper bags didn’t have much of a bag left by the time the rain stopped

· The cardinal is a beautifully big, bright red bird

· Tarps are a good spot for runners’ drop bags. Not so much when it rains, as the tarps make a wonderful spot for a pool

· There can be much communicated in exchanged looks between everyone at an aid station while standing in beating rain and hearing that first crack of thunder

· A person can only handle eating so many granola bars in one day

· Good breath-holding skills are put to the test in a vault toilet

· You can plan to do a lot of reading during a 28 hour period and not open the book once

· Sometimes a hot cup of coffee tastes like it came right from heaven

· Spotting your runner coming from a distance toward the aid station is a good feeling

· If they aren’t limping, it’s even better

· Hearing “I think it’s gonna snap” is never good

· Things that aren’t what they might seem at first impression:
Spectator opening up a completely closed-up vehicle, talking to something that’s been locked inside the HOT vehicle and sharing a piece of banana with it. She was feeding a parrot!

Hearing these stern words from a man behind you “Sit, Lisa!” He was talking to his black lab

· A small town pizzeria can make a late night pizza in 15 minutes. Delivery person can have girlfriend ride with. Must be able to maneuver a quick U turn ending up parked in front of the shop. A slight curb hop is okay.

· You can work up a “sympathy” blister in shoes that you’ve worn a gazillion times before

· A small nap does wonders for a person – spectator and runner alike.

· Some runners can flop face down at an aid station and be sleeping in a matter of seconds

· You can never bring along too many clothes. I even used the rain coat, rain pants, umbrella, winter hat and gloves.

· The town of Fort Atkinson, WI exudes Packer pride with their hunter green garbage cans sporting “taxicab” yellow covers

· New Pretzel M&Ms are really good and only 150 calories per bag

· Too much ice in the cool- off bandana can cause loss of sensation in your runner’s neck area

· The Wisconsin Dells isn’t the same without our kids

· Somewhere you can buy a HUGE plastic bag of Famous Amos cookies . One aid station had three of them!

· “Morraines” are an accumulation of stones, boulders or other debris carried and deposited by a glacier

· The race directors put on a wonderful event at the Kettle Morraine 100 and make each participant feel important. One of the race directors even remembered Rick’s name from a prior race that he had done in Madison.

· Most normal folk chuckle when they talk about this event ‘s 38 mile night “FUN Run”. I think the word FUN mentioned along with ‘38 miles’ and ‘night’ is hard for most of us to comprehend as being in the category of fun.

· Watching Rick cross the 100 mile finish and be presented with his 100 mile finishers kettle was wonderful I would do it all again tomorrow!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Running For The Copper

From the Kettle Moraine Website:

15th Annual Kettle Moraine 100 Endurance Runs
June 5th and 6th, 2010

It started, it RAINED, it ended. For those of us at the 2008 Kettle we never thought the rain could get worse. In 2009 we were fortunate enough to have only minimal rain and ideal conditions.

2010 arrived with a record number of entrants and an expectation for a record number of finishers. The cool morning saw a blistering pace which would forebode trouble.

The meadows heat built and caused many problems for people. Then the saving grace of rain occurred, but we soon learned we must be careful what you ask for. It rained cats and dogs for more than 6 hours....never letting up to allow the trail to drain. Those individuals who persevered are truly worthy of their awards.


Smiling at 99.9 cause I'm still having fun
You really can not go into events like this with the anticipation that you know what the outcome is going to be. When there is 100 miles of ground to cover and 24+ hours of weather, there are just way too many factors that come into play. I guess that is part of the attraction to an ultra. The question is always out there. Will I finish? Will I even make the cut offs? How much more of this "fun" can I take?

Last Saturday's event was truly one of perseverance. In other words, you just had to put your head down and keep plowing away. The conditions were awful as the humidity started to climb as fast as the heat did after the 64 degree, 6 a.m. start. The heat and humidity of the afternoon, most of which was spent running across open meadows, sucked the life out of me. The grass was cut but had grown to about 6-8 inches and latched onto your shoes. I slowed down to a pace at which I thought I would be OK, but I was still overheating as it reached a temp of 80 degrees and 87% humidity. I knew rain was going to come and at about 4 o'clock it did, which was nice. The problem was it just didn't stop. Just when you thought it couldn't rain any harder, it did. And then when you thought again it couldn't rain any harder, it did. And it didn't stop until 10 o'clock. At one point I was going up a fairly steep uphill, where I was now back in the woods, and the water running down the trail was deep enough that I couldn't see my shoes. I didn't mind as now I was not overheating and I was out of the open meadow where I would have been a lightning rod. I had mentioned to my wife, Kristy, at one of the aid stations that I was hoping for some "normal" food. She met me at the 55 mile aid station with a sub from Subway. As I sat under a canopy eating my sub, I was a little disheartened to see people quitting or at least talking about quitting. They were just 7 miles away from the 100k mark. Why would they quit now? I guess we all have our own battles to fight. That Subway sub made me feel like Superman, so off I went with renewed vigor.

Reaching the 100k mark is a critical time. You are actually back at the start/finish line as the 100 mile event consists of 2 out and backs - one of 62 miles and one of 38. If you stop at that point, you get credit for finishing the 100k event. The temptation to quit at that point is great. I knew this going into the event so I heaped it on to Kristy about not listening to any of my whining about how bad I was feeling and that maybe it would be a good idea to quit. She had strict instructions to say, "You've got no broken bones. Your not barfing or bleeding so get going." Once I got to the 100k mark, I had many,many excuses I could have used to stop. But not 1 reason. So I ate the other half of the glorious sub that Kristy had got for me, changed my socks and off I went for the last 38 miles. It was just before 11 p.m. and though the rain had stopped, the low spots on the train were soaked from the 7 inches of rain we had received earlier. I mentioned to Kristy about the futility in changing my socks since they were certain to become soaked again. Heading back out, I soon found myself in water over my ankles. I looked at my watch and found that my fresh socks had lasted just 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Oh well. My feet where hamburger already anyway.

Things went pretty slow the next 20 miles as fatigue and dark of night really starts to remind you that you are human. Odd sounds that spook you at first become comforting after awhile even though you don't know what they are. A loss of concentration put me stumbling through the woods way off the trail where I came to rest up against a tree. That woke me up for a while, but I soon fell back into a late night funk. But after the 81.5 mile mark and a turn around point of the out and back, I felt energized. The sun was up enough that I didn't need my lights anymore and with only 18.5 miles to go, the end was near. I could feel the energy building in me with each mile and with each mile my pace got faster and easier. I felt bad for the people I passed that were really struggling and tried to offer encouragement. Many of them didn't make the finish.

I crossed the finish line completing the 100 miles in 28 hours 21 minutes and into the arms of my much supportive wife. I hugged her and said, "We did it" as I know for certain that I would not have completed it if it were not for her assistance. Out of 168 entrants, only 49 were able to finish. I feel lucky to be one of them. No, not lucky, but blessed.

It was a special day. I got my copper kettle. What more could you want for running 100 miles?


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Done 28 Hours 25 Minutes unoffically

Looking strong! Left here at 8:30 Am. On the home stretch

coming in to mile 85.9

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5:25 Am Rick took off from the 81 Mile aid station

The sun is starting to come up and there are lots of birds singing

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departed aid station 77 Mile at 3:52 Am. Battling a few painful blisters
rick left aid station mile 70.3 At 1:00 Am Fire flies are out

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rick left mile 55 Aid station at 8:05 Pm. The trail is reportably to be a "river"
47.3 Miles at 5:28 Pm. Raining fairly hard with a little wind. Getting Subway For rick
Weird spectator award goes to the parrot at mile 37

Left this aid station 1:15 Pm

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looking good
15.5 Miles at 9:14 Am
7.4 Miles in at 7:25 am

Ready to go

KM100 Tracking

Click the above for tracking me starting at 6 a.m. today as I travel through the Kettle Moraine Forrest in Wisconsin.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Short Work Week Doesn't Mean The Work Is Over

With this already being a short work week because of Memorial Day, it's even a bit shorter for me as Kristy and I will be heading out of town Friday morning for the Kettle Moraine Forrest in Wisconsin. Saturday at 6 a.m., I will be off and running the KM100 which offers events of 100 miles, 100k (62 miles) and a night "Fun Run" of 38 miles. Except for crossing a few highways, there is no pavement on the course. Grass, sand, dirt, mud, roots and rocks will be the norm for most of the course that has 12,006 ft of elevation loss/gain. For us flatlanders, that means climbing to the top of the Fargo Radisson Hotel (206') and back down again every 1.7 miles or 58 times over the 100 miles. Ultra Friends Joel and Tim did 50 miles of this coarse just 4 weeks ago.
I'll put up a link for tracking. Being I have the unit attached to my backpack, and I won't be wearing it all the time, some of the tracks may be an hour or so apart and will correspond to an aid station I am at. When you see the tracks coming 10 minutes or so apart you'll know I have the backpack on. I just don't know right now how often that will be. Kristy may send a note to the blog from time to time to let you know how things are going. Should be an exciting event.

Take a peek at the event website, KM100, where under "Run Information" you can find a map of the coarse which is essentially 2 out and backs. One heading north and back again for a total of 63 miles and the second heading to the south for 37.