Tuesday, July 30, 2013

In search of a PR @ BR

  Not sure where to start.
 Why not start with the end of the story which is just a small part of the entire experience.

 This adventure started about 24 hrs after last years BR100 when I decided that I would love to "race" it instead of just running to finish it. My training was complete as I have run seven 50ks, Not Yo Mamas 50 miler, The Pilot Mountain Marathon in the woods of North Carolina, Mohican 100, and the Cleveland Marathon since the beginning of January.

 Appx 300 people were signed up but not sure how many actually started.
I finished in 25 hrs 8 mins 12 secs. Good enough for 59th place and  3 1/2 hrs faster than last years race and just under 2hrs faster than my PR at Mohican 100 in June.

 I had the full support of my number one cheerleader, best friend & wife Mary. I was going to say I was only running this race with just pacers and no crew but my pacers and their spouses, except for Kirsten who is sans spouse were my crew! This group was the only reason I was able to finish this in the time I did and most likely the  only reason I was able to finish at all.
Mary, Mike, Kirsten, Bert, Beth, and Donna rock!!!

 The Drop bags were taken to Hudson and I was officially bib #1550. Great to run into so many people at packet pick up including Jason, George, and Keith who came down from Ontario and I had the pleasure of seeing at the Mohican 100.

  I got to see Joe, Vince, and Jim who are the organizers of this adventure. Nice seeing some of the volunteers also. These people are the only reason this race happens.
 It is now 3am  Saturday morning and I have quadruple checked that I have everything in order.
Mary has to be in Columbus on business this weekend so I give her a kiss good by and she tells me to "kill it". She has never said that to me before a race but those two words would  make a huge difference in the outcome!

  I head out to what seems to be a perfect morning for a race of this distance. Bert is going to drop me off at the start and take my car home until he gets the call late that night or early Sunday morning that it is time to come down to Cuyahoga Falls and get me to the finish line. His wife Donna drives in her car so Bert can park my car at the finish and get a ride to the Howe Meadow aid station to begin pacing me the last 15 miles. We arrive at Squires Castle in North Chagrin Reservation just before  the buses bringing racers up from the finish area. They have most likely been up since 2am and will be for countless more.                    

 I see Johnathon, Tim and His wife Debi, Jason, George, Duane, Keith and the recently( as in less than 12 hrs ago) married CJ and Larry who is wearing a "just married and already running" sign on his back.
He drew the line at cans hanging from strings off his legs.
 If I mentioned the names of everyone I saw at the start I would be in danger of carpel tunnel. Although some would finish and some would not everyone lining up is a winner in my book!

 There is excitement, tension, apprehension, and anticipation is in the air as we wait for the 5am start.
It begins with a 6 mile loop that takes us back to the castle. I run the trails here probably 3 times a week but can't seem to make it back to the castle without falling. Once last year twice this year. The falls scraped up my knees and hands pretty good but the realization that the only way I scrape up both hands is to have left my handheld water bottle in my car. Rookie mistake #1 for the day. Luckily it would prove to have no effect on the outcome due to help from  friends Thanks Brooke and C.J.

  I hit River Road which is a fairly straight shot south and  will be on it for about 12 miles. I pass a few people and  people pass me. Most everyone is still chipper and exchanging pleasantries. Nothing like the start of an adventure while you still have only positive thoughts in your mind. I spend time daydreaming of how the finish is going to be and how i will be running this race like a champion. The thought that I still have 90 plus miles and at least 23 more hours never creeps into my mind.

 The reality of what we all are attempting hits rather quickly as I come upon Kieth again who is trying to complete the third leg of the Midwest Slam and local runner Dave Morl. They are looking at the swelling in Dave's ankle underneath his calf sleeve. He had injured it at mile two. I find out much later in the race that Dave actually had fractured his ankle in 2 places. Did I mention he didn't drop until mile 46. Seriously a Badass runner!  Heal quickly Dave.

 In these long races I try not to spend too much time at the earlier aid stations because you can add serious hours to your finish. This is hard sometimes because since we are on my "home" turf  I know most everyone there and would love to chat with them. At the second aid station I am forced by a sadistic volunteer who shall remain nameless(Des Cowie) to have my dirt filled, bloody knees and hands cleaned out with straight alcohol. Thanks Des you knew best.

 Luckily the next few hours were uneventful and I had settled into my pace. The rain that started to fall and hung around for most of the day was not really a bad thing given the humidity. For some reason even though I was hydrating well and eating the usual amounts of Pb&J, watermelon and a few other assorted carbs I started to feel a bit lightheaded a couple miles out from the Ottawa Point aid station at mile 46.4 By the time I reached the station I felt like crap. When I explained how I felt Rachel Nypaver who was one of the volunteers and a very accomplished trail runner said that the best thing I could do was take in more calories and hang for ten minutes or so to give my body a chance to reap the benefits of the food. I am smart enough to listen to people that know what they are talking about. I wouldn't be surprised if that ten minutes saved me at least an hour off my finish time.

 I would need all of that strength to get me to Snowville road because that rained I enjoyed turned the next section into what I have heard described as a "mud pit" a "bog" and a few other choice words. I was pretty sure we would be encountering another section like this much later in the race. I was not disappointed.

 I reached Snowville rd aid station which is the unofficial 1/2 way point around 3:30. I was happy to get into Boston store and Pick up a friend of mine Kirsten Dickerson who would be the first of my babysitters, I mean pacers. In hind sight I should have known I wasn't eating or hydrating enough,especially for the few aid stations that were a little further apart. That was rookie mistake #2 but Kirsten was very good about showing me how low the water level in her bottle was and that mine should be much lower than it was. Having pacers for this years race would prove to be invaluable.

 By the time we arrived at The Ledges around mile 66 I was in pretty bad shape due to the fact that even though I was properly hydrating I still was not eating enough for the longer mileage between Pine Lane & the ledges. I did manage to jump and smile for a photo op though! My next pacer Mike Shaughnessy who would be taking over at Pine Lane and his wife Beth could tell by the length it took me to answer simple questions that I needed extra food now or Mike may be looking for someone else to pace. Fortunately I have been in these funks before so I never thought of dropping. If you properly take care of the issue in a timely fashion these funks will pass if not your done!  We left out of The ledges and headed to Pine Hollow. I was kidding about how I was looking forward to "Salt Walk". Not a great attitude to have. Not too long after leaving I was feeling strong again and Kirsten got a first hand look at the difference proper caloric intake makes. I thought of How My wife Mary's first trail run in CVNP was on her birthday getaway  a couple months ago and the first trail she did was Salt Run at midday and temps. in the mid 80s. The last words she said to me as I was leaving at for the start at 4am rang like a bell in my head... "Kill It"             Salt Run be damned I was starting to think I may be able to break 24hrs if everything went right.

  Mike was now taking over and the plan was to call Bert and let him know my status so he could drive down From Eastlake and pace me the last 15 miles. Great plan if only I would have remembered while we were on top of the hill and still getting a cell phone signal. Oh well live and learn. I felt stronger in the 16 miles I ran with Mike than I had in quite some time. My energy was back to 100%. I believe from mile 70 to the finish I moved up about 25 places in the standings. Nothing like one tough Irishman to keep me moving.
If you want to know about toughness and looking adversity straight in the without blinking talk to Mike he is another one of those people that have the mental strength that I am striving for. I had some really good stretches of running all the way to the covered bridge aid station. It was great to see Dawn & Jay and other running friends at mile 80.

  My thought of a sub 24hr finish vanished on the famed Perkins loop. That happens to be the only loop(6x) of the Bills Badass 50k. I know someone that ran BR and posted that he is giving his spot up in BBA 50K because he want's nothing to to with the Perkins Loop anymore.
As if  this part isn't tough enough due to the terrain alone and the fact that you have been on your feet for 80+ miles and all the rain turned parts of the trail into shoe sucking, life draining, mashed potato like hell. God I can't wait to do BBA!!!  It was difficult to get any long runs due to the hills and trail conditions so I gave up on 24 and wanted to finish in my 2nd goal of sub 26hrs. 1st goal  is to just finish and my "If conditions are right and the stars are aligned properly" goal was sub 24hrs which I think was a pretty good attainable goal

  We were able to reach Bert on the phone in plenty of time for him to drive down and meet me at Howe Meadow and see me to the end of my journey. I also saw my friend Michelle who was waiting on our friend Charlie Bolek. Congratulations Charlie on your first 100 finish. Rookie mistake #3 was not letting my pacers know if there was anything special I needed out of my drop bags.I wanted to put Ensure in my little bottles starting at the Ledges but completely forgot as I did at Howe Meadow also. As Mary has told me countless times "make a list". I will next year I promise. Bert had asked me earlier in the week if there was anything special I wanted at Howe Meadow? Mushroom pizza was my reply. I will be damned if he didn't bring me mushroom pizza that he made himself! That is going way beyond the call of duty. Awesome!!!

  After pizza I changed socks & shoes and put on a dry long sleeved zipper shirt. A shot of deodorant, cologne and mouthwash, yes George mouthwash and I was ready to end this with a bang.

 I have run with Bert many times and that was a very big reason it looked like a would achieve my sub 26.
He is one of those people that make you a better runner without trying to. It also helps that we have become friends over these last couple of years. We left Howe Meadow and pretty much had a thankfully uneventful last 15 miles. There were times when I would take a short walking break in spots that I would normally run but for the most part I left it all out there on the trail. I was also pleased that Bert heard the coyotes howling too and it wasn't in my head.Unless of course he was having sympathy hallucinations. So with the companionship and encouragement of Mr. Crooks I was able to run the majority of the last 15 miles including all of the last 3 miles except for about a 100 yard break I took before tackling the road up the hill to the finish. When I was finally able to see the finish line and time clock I felt a quiet sense of accomplishment. When I crossed the line and looked at the time I said to myself "You were right babe, I killed it"! The PR @ BR was now a reality.

 I am a little confused because even well before the race I told everyone I am looking forward to pacing someone next year rather than run it again. I even said that to Kirsten, Mike, & Bert during and after the race. So tell me why I am already thinking about what I can do to shave another 1hr 8mins 13 seconds off this years time?

A little over two months until Oil Creek 100!

See you on a trail somewhere I hope.

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