Friday, June 29, 2012

Running Again

I've begun to work again through my consulting business.  So some of the time that I used to have available for unconcerned training is now absorbed in working for others...

I'm beginning to get excited about taking advantage of my current fitness level to get out for more races than I've attempted in recent years.  I feel the mental need for a redemption run and will also achieve a new level in age group competition as I turn 60 in mid July.

I took a window of time to hike in the early AM then actually ran again in the afternoon.  I still hope to hike the traditional evening hike unless the weather system that's threatening prevents another outing.

3 mile hike and 6 mile run.  3 mile hike after dusk.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Basically another recovery day.  I feel as though I can run again but prefer to take a little more time to heal.  I did get out for a series of hikes today with the last after dusk.  

There is a tree that I pass under that has resulted in what I imagine to be some sort of warning... a strange, trill, bark along with beak snapping.  Apparently, Screech Owls exhibit this behavior when defending their territory and I believe they could be nesting or raising young at this time.

This has occurred  4 or 5 times in the past week and half.

8 miles on the day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Black Hills 50 - - Some Summary Observations

I've had 3 days to review what transpired last Saturday.  I've taken some time to review other race reports and articles regarding the events of that day.  So I've come to a few conclusions and will simply list them as additional thoughts rather than rewrite a more detailed race report or modify yesterday's post.

  • The Black Hills course is very difficult terrain.
  • I didn't adjust my pace to account for the difference in difficulty compared to my training.
  • I became impatient with passing and being re-passed, so ran too aggressively on some downhills for the state of my knees.
  • While, I had made some intelligent decisions about what to include in my drop bag, I became rattled by a missing support crew and, therefore, left the Elk Creek aid without eating adequately. I also rushed through the next aid station without receiving much help and, thereby, missed another opportunity to eat more than gel.
  • I have never raced well in heat and I definitely became over-heated and showed some classic symptoms of heat exhaustion.
  • Other, more experienced, ultrarunners were also affected by the heat and a rather high dropout rate resulted from all 3 races.

But the weekend provided a lot of positives, as well.  Even with the DNF,  I had a great time and only regret that I didn't find a way to walk through to the finish.
  • The Black Hills are a beautiful place to visit...whether driving or running on the trails.
  • The race organization is great (both race directors are ultra runners themselves) and the volunteers were fantastic.
  • There is very good spacing of the aid stations to help make up for the difficult terrain.
  • A year ago, if someone had told me I'd be running 33 miles (in a 50), I would have thought they were crazy because of the knee issues I've been fighting.  This whole race preparation and participation are a bonus!
  • Sturgis has the distinction of the huge motorcycle rally in August, therefore, the selection of restaurants and saloons is excellent and I ate a couple of the best meals I've had in quite some time.  This includes "The Knuckle Sandwich", a 1 lb. burger with sweet potato fries at The Knuckle and a stuffed salmon the was heavenly at One Eyed Jacks!
  • There was enough free time the day before the race to see Mt. Rushmore for my first time and also see the progress on Crazy Horse monument.

This place was huge and includes acres that are not visible in this photo

Today I got out early because the weather forecast is for a steep rise in temperature.  The legs are getting much better and I almost walk downhill without favoring my steps.  I might even be capable of running again tomorrow or Friday.

4 miles in the AM.  3 mile hike after dark.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Black Hills Race Report

It's been tough to garner the ambition to write about the race I wasn't able to finish.  I've been told to interpret DNF as Did Nothing Fatal!

I'll post a few photos of the event rather than write much.  The past couple of days I've had a chance to rehash what I think I felt and what others have told me about what was said about by the runners that passed me between 30 - 33 miles.  I must have been a little loopy based on their reactions and what they told the aid station personnel.  So I'm fairly certain I exhibited some classic symptoms of heat exhaustion.

Comfortable before the start

Elevation Profile shows very little flat running!

Alkali Creek...1st Aid Station... 5.7 miles

These photos don't provide much justice to what the elevation changes involved.  I was very strong on the uphills and usually passed lots of other runners.  But they usually came back past on the downhills.  I eventually started running downhill more aggressively and this likely trashed my legs.

Elk Creek Outbound...I missed my crew so used my drop bag but forgot to eat!

Bear Butte

Elk Creek Aid Station Inbound...I'm cooked.
I learned some good lessons about nutrition.  But I also learned that I was pretty intuitive about what to put in my drop bag, as it gave me the chance to provide an extra water bottle to Curtis, grab a kerchief to keep wet around my neck, and also replenish my gel supply.  Curtis went on to finish the 100K but also struggled in the heat.  After I dropped, I was able to become his support crew and enjoyed staying a part of the race in that capacity.

Curtis Vais going through the 1st aid station a few minutes ahead of me

Curtis crossing the finish
I had more to write and stories to tell but think I'll just leave it as is.  There may be more photos that surface later.

Snagged some additional photos and posted in this later post.

Walked 4 miles this afternoon and will hike 3 tonight.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Black Hills Burnout...Broken, Bewildered, Bummed

Check out the changes in elevations in the race profile

Just a quick note now and I'll get to a better post with some photos later...after I settle down and get better rest.

Short story...I ran a pretty good 50K during the 50 mile race but succumbed to the terrain and heat by dropping at the aid station at 33 miles.  I had climbed up to 5th place overall by the halfway turnaround and held that through  50K but began feeling faint and nauseous and the legs weren't working right anymore.

It's been difficult thinking back and realizing I didn't finish like I had wanted.  No storybook ending for the journey leading up to this race but not a nightmare either, more like a mystery!

I'll try to write a race recap later.  Here's a story from the local news..

More bad news about one of my favorite places to run... Waldo Canyon.

Walked 4 miles this morning and 3 at dusk.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sturgis, SD

Quite a drive yesterday across South Dakota. Saw some Pronghorn Antelope, wild in the field, and lots of open countryside.

 Ran a shakeout run with Curtis, waited for my son to arrive with his friend from Minneapolis, then did a not-so-smart meal of "The Knuckle Sandwich" at The Knuckle Saloon. This was the largest burger I'd ever seen, touted as a one pounder! The sweet potato fries were good and perhaps somewhat more healthy?

 Staying in tune for 'What not to do the day before your 1st 50 miler', we're planning to buzz down to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse, today!

Photos and hopefully a better posting later or maybe after we get back to Iowa on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Trail Gods Giveth

So I'm sure some of my past blog entries have indicated how dedicated (or anal) I am about cleaning trash and recyclables from the trail.  Well, either due to good karma or perhaps simply someone that knows I stop for cast-off trail debris, but with an early start today I happened upon a gift.  The Gods chose to leave an unopened can of beer sitting in the trail.

So I promptly scooped it up and holstered it in my new Nathan running vest.  I wan't some more experience with weight in the vest anyway and it fit nicely in the draw pouch for a water bottle!

On an even more positive note, the run felt incredibly good. There was a bit of tenderness from the cortisone injection site but my niggles have disappeared and the legs and backside felt great.  The knees are noticeably less painful and I've noted that I can take stairs without having to favor them.  This is a good thing as there are a lot of ups and downs on the Black Hills course.

5 miles with very little hiking.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Injection of Excitement

Because of some history of success with an aggressive anti-inflammatory, I went to the Doc this morning for some cortisone injections.

So I waited for afternoon and let the heat build up outside before heading out for an easy workout.  All was well and, although I could feel a little sensitivity to the actual injection points, I could already feel an improvement in the tightness and twinges that I usually feel in the knees!

Of course (pun intended), it's photos of the course like this that help get the blood flowing, as well.

4 easy miles at noon. 3 mile evening hike.

Monday, June 18, 2012


The summer weather has been drier than most years.  It hasn't been great for the crops here in Iowa.  But there's been enough moisture lately to grow some nice patches of poison ivy.  Since I react badly to contact with this plant, I know what it looks like and have successfully avoided it for quite some time.  I have, occasionally, brushed against some and saw the blisters begin, however, I avoided a full flair-up by careful restraint from scratching where it itches!

5 easy miles this AM. 3 mile evening hike.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Back On Course

Although there seems to continue to be twinges in the lower back, today felt much better.  The run at Lime Creek went very well and I didn't need to concern myself with the back.  Easy pace for 5 miles then an evening hike.

A bonus yesterday evening was to swing over to the whitewater course on the Cedar River at Charles City and watch the remnants of training following the competition from earlier in the day.

65 miles for the week.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


The pain in my butt was back again last night so I skipped the hike and got to bed early.  But it didn't feel much better when I woke.  After breakfast and moving around a while, it disappeared so I headed out for a test run.

The run went well and I could move with ease at about any pace I wanted.  There had been an early morning rain shower so there was a bit of mud and wet grass.

Some interesting observances on the trail today: A mother raccoon with four little babies following her, as fast as they could but not fast enough for her wanting to get out of sight;  a riderless horse, with saddle and bit but the reins were missing and her rear quarters scratched and bleeding.. I eventually came across two other horses, one with riders doubled-up, that were asking if I had seen a horse go by?; and then I got some bonus breakfast as the wild black raspberries were ripening.  The wildflowers have also begun to shift from the spring bloomers to summer.

Purple Prairie Clover

10 miles this AM.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kicks and Niggles

This taper thing is driving me crazy.  I didn't have any injuries of consequence during the training...only the expected muscle soreness. But now during the taper, I feel this twinge in my butt that reminds me of a problem I had before my 1st marathon back in 1980.  I actually had trouble standing and walking last night without pain!  Is it psychological or certainly feels real! 

But luckily, after a full night's sleep and a morning hike, all seems to be improving.  I'll try a bit longer run tomorrow approximately the same time as the scheduled race start and with my intended race gear.

5 miles this AM and skipped the traditional evening hike after the lower back flared again after dinner.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Another Easy Day

A few days ago I warned that the daily posting could get boring.  Today was an easy, recovery day and I didn't exert much effort.  I had been feeling the stiffness in my hamstrings from the "bonus" hills at Pilot Knob and that had been on top of a rather quick-paced 10 miler the day before.  

So it was fast-hiking with the dog today and then some catching up on email correspondence and some actual work at the City of Plymouth, that just hired me as a consultant.

I checked in with Fred McCurnin, who is training in Colorado right now, and caught him out on the trails.  His wife, Jeanne, is in the middle of training for the Leadville 100 later this summer.  Jeanne just won her age group at the Garden of the Gods 10 miler last weekend!  Way to go, Jeanne.

4 mile hiking this AM and another 3 yet tonight.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Running Longevity...You Know You're Old When

Unintentionally I ended up with another stronger effort for a second day in a row.  Curtis and I both wanted to get some more hill work in as a bit of a test before the hills we'll face in the race.  We thought Friday would work but changed to today at the last minute in order to coordinate both of our schedules.  So we hit the hills of Pilot Knob (second highest point in Iowa) with purpose this morning.  I could feel the effort of yesterday's run but we stayed steady for a good 6 mile loop that hit many of the rolling hills at the park.

I had begun thinking about the past and, simply, how things have changed through the years. So I started a list of...

You Know You've Been Running A Long Time When...

  1. You not only remember names like Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Jeff Galloway, or Billy Mills but also remember seeing them race!
  2. You could wait until the day of the race before deciding whether or not to enter rather than commit to it months in advance.
  3. Race entry fees were in the range of $10.
  4. Race shirts were always all cotton so you took a size larger than what you thought you would wear. Technical shirts were, technically, not yet existent.
  5.  Races were primarily on the roads with very little mention of ultras or trails in the periodicals.
  6. The only periodicals available for running were, basically, Track & Field News, Runner's World, and The Runner.
  7. Internet and online were thought to be terms reserved for the fishing industry rather than a source of  running information or race entry.
  8. Race-day supplements consisted of only a handful of choices rather than more than you can imagine today.
  9. You could buy 3 pairs of running shoes for what one pair costs today.
  10. It now takes as long to get ready to run in the morning as it used to take for the entire workout.
  11. Clipping your toenails was straight off the front rather than top, sideways, and whatever direction they decide to grow!

Six miles with Curtis at Pilot Knob in the AM.  The routine evening hike tonight.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


The weather has moderated into a groove of sunny, cool, pleasant, breezy repetitiveness.  I wasn't sure how I would feel when hitting the trail today because, even though I've backed off on the mileage, I had been feeling less than sharp.  

That changed soon after I began to run, things were clicking and the pace felt easy while running faster than usual. I, also, was in the groove.  I purposely needed to stop and hike some sections to keep from "racing" the loop.  So I guess this was additional reinforcement that training has gone well and I'll be stoked for the race on the 23rd!

10 miles at mid-day and my evening hike yet to come.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I'm sure some of my doubts about whether my knees could withstand ultra-training and racing has crept into my blogging.  I've used a regular pattern of combining fast hiking with my running and today came across another blog that helps support this approach!  The Running Man writes about it here.

I continued the taper today and resigned myself to hiking.  The weather is great and there's a temptation to head out and work some trails with more vigor...but I'll hold off a bit.  I'm sure I'll be running some quality yet this week but today is for rest and recovery.

5 miles in the AM. The regular hike yet tonight.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bark in the Park

The Humane Society of North Iowa held a fund-raiser at Lime Creek today.  There were plenty of dogs out there and I'm sure some great presentations.  I used to not pay much attention to canine events but, do now because we dog-sit for my son so often!

As for my workout, I spent an easy day out in 90 degree temperatures, listening to podcasts and transitioning between hiking and running.

7 miles and the hike routine this evening. 76 miles for the week.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Heating Up

The questions about how well I'm prepared are beginning to haunt me a bit.  I waited a while today to let the weather warm up.  The humidity seems to have increased, as well.  It was quite easy to run and I ran much of the 7 mile loop.  Another 3 mile hike at dusk.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Relay For Life

This evening is the Cerro Gordo County Relay For Life to help fight cancer.  I've been a charter member of the Stoyle's Team so my wife and I are helping with the activities tonight.  I looked forward to an easy day and put in 4 miles on the trails this morning and another 3 for my evening hike, as well.

Myself and team leader, Bill Stoyles, posing in our "photo booth"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Metabolic Efficiency

The main training is finished so the next few weeks may begin to sound like a scratched CD that keeps repeating.  
The "taper" or sharpening may seem anti-climatic to the training build-up yet it's probably more important in that you can ruin the race with an improper taper.

Something that I haven't discussed much in this blog, has been the slow transition in my diet.  By listening to so many podcasts during the training, I began to wonder what diet suits me and this training.  There's many diverse opinions.  But I often heard about the changing food pyramid and concentrating on a higher percentage of fat.  This was against all that I've used in the past and certainly not what was drilled into us when growing up in the 60's and 70's.  But I've now begun to emphasize fats in the morning, and along with my slower paces and hiking, am beginning to teach my body to depend more on fat as fuel.  I definitely seem to feel better in the early stages of my workouts lately.

During a podcast that I listened to on today's run, I learned that the term applied to what I'm moving to is..metabolic efficiency.  I hope the way I've felt under this recent change bodes well for me at the Black Hills 50.

7 miles this AM and a hike after dusk. I even was surprised to observe a bioluminescent caterpillar while hiking tonight.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

National Running Day

Surprised that I felt much better today than yesterday.  I started with an early morning 3 mile hike but due to it being National Running Day, I couldn't "not run" at some time during the day.  Around lunch, I took off for a 7 mile loop and it went well.  Ended the day with another 3 mile hike at dusk...the stars/constellations were very distinct tonight.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Coming Back

It's always nice to get back to familiar territory and today I was out on Lime Creek.  I perhaps set myself up for a tough day because we made the quick trip over to Chicago over the weekend and goofed up any semblance of normal/adequate sleep.  I mentioned that I ran in Galena by searching for and finding an old race course from the 1980"s.  I recalled that, at the time, the hill was one of the most difficult that I had ever run.  It now pales in comparison to what I've experienced in Colorado.

Very interesting the way Galena fits into the hillsides around it.

Yep, Buckhill Road was the culprit.

Every time you turn a corner there's more hill and another corner!

I was pleased with how I could run the hills but my legs definitely felt the burn that evening.  So when I woke early on Sunday, I headed out for some more.  The scenery of the area was stunning and Sunday added a bit of fog to the landscapes.

Today I wanted to get a longer run in but, as I stated, I was not 100% recovered from the weekend.  The early loops went well and I was practicing using boiled potatoes, peanut/butter and jelly sandwiches, and my homemade energy gel.  I also brought some electrolyte tablets that are going to be sponsored during the SD race.  Again, the tabs seemed to cause some stomach problems for me (same as the 30 miler at Pilot Knob).  But I stabilized when I slowed down and especially after I ate some more sandwich.  I chose to call it a workout after 20 miles and not go too deep into the hurt locker this close to the race.  I'm wanting to sharpen between now and the 23rd but not at the expense of today's effort causing me to start recovering from a race-type push.

A parting shot of the prairie at Lime Creek that is showing a great comeback from the early spring intentional burn.  And another visit with a Fox Snake in the grass!

20 miles this AM and a hike yet tonight.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Long Road Home

Up at 4 AM to help deliver my daughter and her husband to O'Hare Airport then drove back to Iowa, visited my mother,and prepped for a long run tomorrow if I can feel fresh enough to tackle the distance.

Still waiting for time to download the Galena photos and finish the posts for Sat/Sun.

Hiked after dusk, 3 miles.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Head for the Hills

Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning in Galena, Illinois. Revisited a race route from 25 years ago. Lots of hills and great workout. Trashed my legs but good recovery, as well. More details and photos coming when we return from Chicago. 10 miles Saturday and 3 Sunday early morning for 91 so far for the week.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Alternative Core Work

As stated yesterday, today was to be an easier day.  As such, I took the time while running the loop today, to rebuild some of the rock cairns that I've built in the past but, for whatever reason, other hikers love to destroy!  The big one out on the Badlands Loop made for some good upper body and core muscle work.

Someone else took time to build the little guy in the foreground.
In addition to the lifting, I've also begun to do many, many sets of calf raises by standing on a ledge and raising/lowering my heels.  I had done a ton of these when I prepared for the Pikes Peak events in the past.

10 miles in the AM. More hiking at dusk.