Sunday, October 31, 2010

Surf the Murph 2010

I signed up for this race to see how I can handle a 50 Mile trail run. One of the runs I was planning to do next year was the Bighorn 50 Trail Run. If I can't run a 50 here, I sure as heck can't run one out there. After my Birkebeiner Trail Marathon in September, and how the small rolling hills just hammer my calf muscles, I knew at that time the Bighorn 50M was not for me.

Until a month ago, I had never run at Murphy-Hanrehan Park and fortunately I was able to get out there twice. I ran once with a friend from my health club and the second time with Katie Thompson who I met there by chance. It was really helpful to have a general idea of what I was in for. I was well trained for a marathon and was excited to see what the day was going to bring.

Race Day

I packed a million things into my drop bag and headed to the Park. The weather looked to be perfect for running. I decided to wear cross-country ski pants and a long sleeve shirt with a short sleeve shirt on top. I also would be wearing my Nathan hydration pack. I was going to also carry some Shot Bloks and a lot of S!Caps.

This run was three 16.8 mile loops for the 50M. I was wearing my Garmin 310XT and had decided to stop/restart the Garmin with every loop. That way it would be better for recording the route and my paces.

Loop 1

Loop 1 Garmin data here. 16.86 miles.

We were given instructions and told that about half the runners got off-track last year. I couldn't understand this as all you need to do is keep the flags to your left. How hard can that be? Pretty hard, if you asked me now. :-)

I fired up my headlamp and at 6:00am (exactly) off we went. I think I was roughly in the pack where I wanted to be, between the top third and top half. There must have been almost 40 runners in the 50 Mile event. It wasn't too long before Katie ran up to me and we started to talk. Unfortunately, Katie's headlamp had almost zero light output. Her Ragnar Relay run this year had drained it. Ugh for her. My light was bright and Katie and I ran together to share my light. I learned that I really should have turned my ball cap around as the bill shadowed the ground in front of me, which doesn't make for the best running conditions. Oh well. At the first aid station the woman there (I should know her name but don't) lent Katie her headlamp which was a super-nice thing to do. Katie and I continued to run together. Every aid station was great. I just drank water at the Horse Camp station and when we got to Lisa/Helen/Katie's-aunts station, Helen gave me a handful of jelly beans. Yum. I must have run with a mouthful of Jellybeans for a mile after that. :-) The sugar was hitting the spot.

Earlier in the run I stepped on a few stick and rocks with my right foot but none of that seemed to bother my running. Somewhere between Lisa/Helen's station and the starting point I ran on top of a baseball-sized rock. This one really rolled my foot/ankle. Even so, that didn't hurt either.

Oh, I forgot, around mile three my intestines started to gurgle. Oh no. That was not a good sign for the day. My GI issue continued the entire first loop. Katie said she had packed Immodium-AD in her drop-bag. I told her that I didn't want to take any and that I'd be OK. Before we finished the first loop I changed my mind. I also said that I was planning to drop back a bit from her and start lap 2 alone. She is a very strong runner and I knew my pace was not going to match hers on lap 2.

We completed loop 1 in a very good 2:56. My body (except for the GI issues) felt great and my muscles felt great. Katie gave me 2 Immodium-AD and I told her I needed a restroom stop and was going to take a few minutes before started lap 2.

Loop 2

Loop 2 Garmin data here. 19.13 miles (oops).

I got some water, made my restroom stop, had some food at the aid station and took off running. Oh no! I had a sharp pain in my right foot. The kind of pain where you can't run without a limp. I walked a few feet and tried again. Pain. Now I'm about 100 feet into loop 2 and I'm thinking about the 33 more miles I need to cover. Ugh. I considered turning around right then and there and calling it a day. If it had been like Tuesday/Wednesday with the rain and horrible winds, I would have quit. But Saturday was a beautiful day so why not just have a great walk in the park. That's what I did. My goal now was to walk and try to run once in a while. I wanted to get to the North aid station and then to the Horse Camp where I would then come back to the finish on the road and trails to wait for Katie to finish lap 2.

So now I'm mostly walking but running short distances, with pain. I made it to the North aid station and had some Mac and Cheese and hung around there for a while. I talked about my plan to drop and was offered a ride back to the start. No thanks, I was going to work my way to the Horse Camp station. It was enjoying my walk so much and then I started out again. It was such a surprise when the pain was gone. It had taken about 1h15min for the foot/ankle to loosen-up and it felt great now. Well, there was nothing left to do but run! At the Horse Camp station I was still considering dropping at some point but as long as I felt good and knew I wasn't damaging my foot, I was going to continue.

I was running well now and chatted with Daryl and a little later, Lynn. Lynn and I chatted until we arrived at Lisa/Helen's aid station. They had Arnica Gel and Lisa rubbed some onto the spot where I had pain. There was no pain now but I'll take all the help I can get. I think this is where I met with Maranda. Maranda is a young woman also running her first 50M race. Maranda was looking for some energy and I gave her a serving of Shot Bloks. Maranda and I started running together and she complained about an upset stomach she was having so I gave her an S!Cap too. We separated and met again at the Horse Camp station. I asked Maranda if she needed anything and started to take out more Shot Bloks for her. She said, No, the other things. Oh, S!Caps. I gave her a bag of S!Caps and she told me that the one earlier had instantly soothed her stomach. That's what I like about these races too, people working together to get each-other through. It was here that I told Londell to cross me off the list. I was feeling a small amount of pain increasing in my foot and I was doubting I was going to do another loop. I also told him that if I did do the third loop I would let him know on my next time through so he could un-cross me off. :-)

Maranda and I would run together from here to the finish of loop 2. You know how all you need to do is keep the flags on you left? Well, Maranda and I were running and it seemed like the final part of the lap was taking too long. Things were looking too familiar. It was really eerie and kind of like a nightmare in the daytime. Of course, we had already run the full course once but we were seeing parts that seemed like we had just seen a short time earlier. I kept saying that all we needed to do is keep to the right of the flags. How could we have gone so wrong? This surprises me as it will most of you that were out there, but we had run right by the three flags and the 'Fun Zone' sign and repeated that entire 'inner loop' area in the North Portion of the run. You can see where we doubled-up on the run if you open my Garmin map for loop 2 and zoom in a bit. Oh well, what's an extra 2+ miles? hahahaha

How about my foot? At around mile 28 there was some light pain creeping back in but I was still running well. When we were running and I'd glance down at my Garmin, we were always going at around a 10:20 pace. Not bad, I thought. I was super happy that my mind was still very clear (except for missing the Fun Zone), and my legs still felt great, and my stomach felt awesome. It was a great day to run. Only at around mile 35 did my legs start to feel tired but that may have been after we climbed Pike's Peak.

Maranda and I finished loop 2 and then I went back to the timing table and dropped out. I loved every minute of the day except for the very beginning of loop 2. I felt great but I decided to be conservative and not stress what may/may-not be wrong with my foot. I got a long-50K in for the day with a time of 7:40. I was very happy to be on my feet that long without hitting a wall like what can happen when running a marathon. Maranda met her boyfriend after loop 2 and he went out with her to run to the horse camp and then from there to the finish (well, that was her plan). I hope she finished well.

Loop 3

Loop 3 wasn't for me today. I dropped out to ensure I didn't damage my foot.

I got something to eat and drink and then went back to the timing table to see how my loop 1 partner, Katie, was doing. She was rocking! Our loop 1 together was 2:56. She ran loop 2 in 2:50. At that rate she would be done at around 9 hours. Awesome. I decided to wait and watch for her finish. Katie had a fantastic loop 3 of 3:03 and ran a 8:50 for the female win and it was her first 50 mile race. Congrats, Katie! The second place woman would come in at 8:54.

The next day

This morning I have the expected overall muscle soreness and a bruise on my right bicep. How the heck did I get that bruise? I'll never know. I went on a 15 minute walk to warm-up slightly and stretched my hamstrings, calf muscles, and quads. That felt good. Now I need to schedule a massage, sooner rather than later!

Next year?

I think I would run the 50M next year. This year I had the bad luck of stepping badly on something with my right foot three times which ended up being the major topic in my run as you all know now. The race was great. The volunteers were great. I love the shirt too. Thanks to everyone out there and I'll see you next year!

Oh yeah, I now know that the Bighorn Trail Run 50K is the one for me. I hope that I'm able to make it fit into my schedule next year.


additional notes:

I almost drained my Nathan 70oz pack on the two loops and I only used it to supplement what I got at aid stations. After the first few stations, my favorite drinks were 2+ cups of Coke plus a cup of water. I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches best and always enjoyed a few potato chips. I may have only consumed 6 Shot Bloks total as the aid station food was hitting the spot.

I took 2 S!Caps at a time but only when I 'felt' I should have some. That worked well. After the race I took 2 right away and then 2 more when I got home. My legs never cramped at any time.

I think a belt pack with some storage would be ideal for me in this race next year. It's such a pain in the @SS to fill the Nathan I never wanted to do it. Those 22oz bottles are easy to fill but I don't think I'd want to carry one for 10+ hours. Putting one in a belt looks like the way to go.

My feet were very strong after running a bunch of trail races in July. They have weakened as I have noticed later in the Summer. I think I need to change at least two of my long Saturday runs to trail runs. Also, since three of us in my house have weak ankles I am going to shop for a wobble-board. Londell took a picture of me running. My foot strike is obviously on the outside corner of the heel. What the heck does that mean? My shoes are neutral but does that mean I should have a different type of shoe?

My last thought is that I wonder if I should get 'trail shoes'. I run everything in road shoes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Door County Fall 50 2010

I ran the team relay race at the Door County Fall 50 again this year, my third consecutive year. This year I was on a team of 5 including Dave, Brendan & Miaja, and my wife, Kathy. Kathy made a good effort this Summer as a beginning runner and we had run a few races together. Pain caused by a bone spur cut her running carrier very short (about 3 months). So, this year we ran as a team of 4 and our team name was "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out". The team name was a line from the movie A Christmas Story. All it takes is "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out" boxer shorts, being worn in public at our health club, combined with a 'wardrobe malfunction', to provide inspiration for the team name. Brendan would wear those boxers in the Fall 50 this year but we made sure he had the fly pinned-shut. :-)

You can find my previous race reports by clicking on 2008 or 2009. There are many more pics in those reports because of the rainfall this year, I kept the camera in the car most of the time.

Friday night we drove to Sturgeon Bay and stopped at the Ladder House for packet pickup. Packet pickup went smoothly and I said hi to John Storkamp who is one of the top solo runners. John is the race director for the Afton Trail Run which is a great trail race in the Twin Cities area and it's a can't-miss race held in the peak of the Summer heat. We also ran into Kristen/Karl/Paul that I know as they're friends I run with sometimes.

We had dinner, the same as last year, was at the Inn at Cedar Crossing. Unlike the fantastic dinner we had last year, this year's dinner was ordinary. The restaurant was very busy and maybe it was an off-night as far as cooking goes. Of course, this is my opinion.

Saturday morning I got up for breakfast and we were ready to head for the start at 7:30. We had a 9am start time based on our Team's overall pace. Since Kathy dropped from our team, we would have a faster pace than I originally estimated. Before we left Minnesota, I filled out a spreadsheet that showed each of the legs of the race and when we expected to have a runner start from each exchange. I just entered what I guessed our overall pace would be - 8:30 per mile. I tell people that I'm good at guessing a team pace. Last year we were 3 minutes and 7 seconds faster than what I estimated. I guess with confidence!

Kathy also asked me if she could volunteer at the race since she wasn't running. What a great idea! So, I used my chart of when we would be at the exchanges and decided that it would work out best for Kathy to volunteer at the Exchange #3 food/water station. We dropped Kathy off on our trip to the start and we were getting more excited by the minute.

At the start, Brendan got prepared, went to the starting line and in a few minutes the horn sounded and he was off. I somehow didn't see him run by so I just took a picture of strangers (not posted here). I was happy that we had warmer temps and no cold wind blowing on us like last year, and maybe the year before. The weather seemed perfect for running. Not wanting to be last to Exchange #1, we headed down the road.

I was scheduled to run leg 2 and I was ready to go. When Brendan handed me the wrist band I took off and was passed by a runner after about one minute. Ugh. What a way to start the day. Oh well. This darn leg starts on an uphill. I ran hard and fairly fast and after I got to the top it was time to fly (this is all relative). I had expected to run at a 7:30 average for the day but I was runner well today. My Garmin data for this 6.4 mile run is here. I was very happy with a 7:09 average pace for that run and very happy that I ran the hills.

I won't speak much for the other runners but I handed off to Miaja for leg 3 and we headed to Exchange #3. There we chatted with Kathy and picked her up at the end of her volunteering shift as Dave waited to start. I love running leg 4 and it was Dave's turn to run that leg this year. If your team run this race enough years, I highly recommend that all runners get a chance to run leg 4 through Peninsula Park. It's my favorite segment of the race. I believe Dave ran very well at just over a 7:00 pace.

Leg 5 was my turn again. 4.8 miles and this is the leg that had a healthy switch-back thrown in. Nice! I ran this leg at an 7:17 pace and was happy again to run the whole thing - even the switchback. You can see my Garmin data here. Due to the difference between the actual distance and what the Garmin reports, the paces I list here don't match the Garmin. I used the recorded time along with the published leg distances. My day's average pace was 7:13 for 11.2 miles and I am very pleased with that pace. The cooler weather and rain helped me run fast. After I was done with this leg I was done with the race! In addition, I was at the half-way buffet and was ready for some soup. Yum!

The next legs were run well by the team with Brendan running legs 6 and 7, Dave running leg 8, and Miaja running legs 9 and 10. That seemed to be a good way to split up the legs for 4 runners and we each only had to run twice although two people ran back to back legs.

We went to the finish and waited for Miaja to come into the park then we crossed the finish in 7:07:09. My guess of an overall 8:30 pace would have put us in at 7:05:00 so we were just 2:09 over. This puts my two-year combined estimated finishing times at only 62 seconds slower than estimated for 100 miles. I'm predicting this will end with a total.pace-guessing.failure next year. :-)

The test party was great as usual but we left just before the awards were announced to go back to the hotel and get cleaned up. Later, some of us headed across the street and got a little more food and some beverages before heading downtown like last year, we hit some fun places downtown and a few of us stayed out dancing until after 1am. I'm convinced that 2 or 3 hours of dancing is awesome for recovery. My legs feel really good today, the second day after the race, and I think it's mostly because of that late night dancing.

me (Mark), Dave, Miaja, Brendan

Although I have one more race this year, I can confidently state that the Door County Fall 50 is my favorite race of the year for the third consecutive year!

See you there in 2011.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Door County Fall 50 and Surf the Murph 50 coming up

The Door County Fall 50 is my favorite team race. This year my team has 4 runners in the 50 mile relay. We'll each run twice for about 12 miles total for the race. This race doesn't need any special training for me since I finished a marathon about a month ago. I can't wait!

The Surf the Murph 50 mile run is a different situation. I've never run a 50 mile race and have never been to the Murphy-Hanrehan Park until Saturday, just over a week ago. That was my first training run there. One of my running friends met me there to give me a tour. I had a course map and we roughly followed some of the course. It was in the mid 80s for temps that day and we had a tough slow run. 13.3 miles in 2:40. Ugh. After that run I changed my 1st-loop race-day target from 3 hours to 4 hours. October 30th is going to be a long day.

Yesterday I went to Murphy-Hanrehan Park again for more training. Just as I was entering the trails from the parking lot, a woman was hitting the trails too. She was running about 30 yards ahead of me for the first mile and while walking up one of the big hills, we met. She was out there training just like me. The 30th was going to be her first 50 mile race too and we set out to run a loop together. Just like at Afton, I can be holding a map in my hand and still not be able to follow the route. Even so, we got a good feel for the course. There was an area, in the far South-West of the park, where we tried to figure out where the course went. We just couldn't figure it out. We decided to abort that little expedition and I guided us across a dry swamp. Based on all the cuts I got on my legs from the nettles, raspberry bushes, and thorny shrubs, I hope my new running friend didn't get cut up too much! Sorry KT! Finding our way to a trail again, we ran most of the remainder of the course and finished with 14.6 miles in 2:28. Not too bad in that terrain but I was definitely going too fast for race day.

The Door County Fall 50 will be a day of fun and the Surf the Murph 50 Miler will be a day of endurance and testing limits!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

My girls' perfect soccer season (no running content)

My email address starts with '4twins' not because I am 'for the MN twins' but I'm not against the MN twins either. It's because my 4 kids are all twins. My twin girls, Molly and Kerry, are in the 8th grade and just finished their Fall school soccer season.

Here is a poor picture of a picture of their 8A team:

The girls had a FANTASTIC soccer season!

The season ended Friday with them winning all 10 of their games. Every one of those games was a SHUTOUT! That's the part that impresses me so much. The team scored 57 goals and obviously there were no goals scored against them.

All 16 girls had at least one assist and all 16 scored at least one goal. Is this what you would call a 'perfect season'? Well, congrats Molly and Kerry and Team, winning streaks like this don't happen very often!

--Mark (proud Dad of Molly and Kerry)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

2011 preliminary race plans

The 2010 running season is not over but I've put together my wish-list of races for 2011. My goal is to shift even more towards trail running than I have in 2010, which is about 50/50 trails/road.

Ron Daws 25K
Trail Mix 4-person team race

Ice Age 50K

Bighorn Trail Run 50K or 50M

Afton Trail Run 25K
Run the Keweenaw 3-race series

Birkebeiner Trail Marathon

Door County Fall 50 5-person team relay
Surf the Murph 50M

The only thing I know for sure is that this list will change.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Twin Cities Marathon 2010 (watching, not running)

SteveQ pointed this way to possibly a better report than his. Sorry folks, there won't be too much to read here today.

I got really early to meet my friend BC in Highland Park at 6:30am. Our (my) plan was to get over to the St. Thomas hill before 7:30 in order to see the leaders of the TC-10. I got to BC's house and unloaded my bike. I saw BC and realized right away that all we were missing was a sheep. :-) BC was wearing Wellies and a Kilt. I lived long enough in the UK to know that those were two out of three ingredients to many jokes. Like I said, all we were missing was a sheep.

We hopped on our bikes and stopped for coffee on the way. It was a nice, crisp ride up to St. Thomas and we found a sweet spot to watch the race. It wasn't too long before SteveQ walked up and we chatted for a long time and before we knew it, here were the TC-10 elite women runners. Katie McGregor was #1 or #2. She looked strong and ended up with a win. Not long after, the guys came through. I didn't recognize the leaders. Just under 30 minutes in, we saw SteveS and he looked to be on pace for his sub-60. Way to go Steve!

I was able to see most of my friends running the TC-10 and they all looked good. The weather was great for racing and we had a great spot to watch the runners. I think we stayed until nearly all of the TC-10 runners had passed and it was time to leave SteveQ and get refills on coffee.

For the TC marathon, the lead wheelchair racers were already through by the time we got back to our 'spot'. For the marathon, we found a cozy spot in the sun and it was just a fantastic day to be out and watch the marathon. I hung out with SteveQ as well as my running friends BC, and Julie, Hannah, and Tom. It was cool and sunny and perfect. I would have missed running in it but I just ran in a marathon last Saturday. Therefore, I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not running it.

During the marathon I also saw most of my running friends, some were heading to new PR's, some for Boston Qualifiers, and some were NOT having great running days and would be not meeting their goals today. Well, meeting goals or not meeting goals, I know my running friends will be lacing up their shoes soon enough and will be hitting the running paths, working towards that next goal.

Anyways, CONGRATS to ALL that ran, and THANKS to all that volunteered this weekend. I will be watching the TCM again, one year from now, from the same spot at 21.5 miles into your race. I really enjoyed watching both races! See you next year.


p.s. I have mentioned my training partners a few times this Summer. Michelle, Aileen, and I all trained for a 3:40 marathon. Michelle and Aileen both ran the TCM and it came down to how things went 'that day'. Aileen beat her goal of 3:40 with a 3:37:40 and near-ideal splits of 1:48:34/1:49:06. Michelle did not meet her goal but was still able to finish in the 3:50's.