Thursday, March 22, 2012

Luckie's 5k recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 7; 4th Edition 
130 miles raced in 2012
Race: Luckie's 5k
Place: Atlanta, GA
Miles from home: 1871 miles
Weather: 60s, sunny, muggy

In the week following my 100 mile finish at Graveyard, I barely ran.  I did one short little 2-miler and then another softly trotted 5 miler with the club members of the Salt Lake City Track club. I then boarded a plane to Atlanta to take part in the festivities of the Georgia Marathon weekend for the third straight year. I had zero intention of taking part in any of the races for the weekend. At a reception after the first day of the expo for those involved with putting the race together, the idea was jokingly proposed that I "Beat the Bear" in the 5k the next morning.  

What does that mean, you might ask? Well, Karhu, the shoe company which sponsored, the race has a mascot of a bear. In the 5K race, a local fast runner is given quite the unenviable task of running the 5k dressed in a sweat-inducing bear suit and gigantic bear head. If you are skilled enough to beat him, you win a pair of Karhu shoes. Hence, the joke that I should Beat the Bear.

Well, then the joke became more of a reality, in spite of my persistence that I was in fact quite sore from running 100 miles in 21 hours five days previously. “But the guy wears a bear suit!” was the reply. Soon, like a teen at a party I succumbed to the peer pressure and found myself with a bib number for the Luckie’s 5K the next morning.

Race Morning:

I stood on the starting line of the race, in relatively warm temperatures, happy as heck I was just running 3.1 miles.  Then I realized that barring a 5k at the end of a sprint triathlon last year, the last time I ran a 5k in a race alone was over three years ago. I don’t run 5ks for many reasons - two of those being they hurt like heck and I am not too good at them. What the heck was I doing running this one?
I literally had no idea what to expect out of my legs.  Was this going to take me 19 minutes or was it going to take me 25 minutes?  Could I even get my legs moving fast enough to be in contention for beating that damn bear? Or would this particularly hilly 5k course tear me to shreds? The next 3.1 miles would give me my answer.

Mile 1:

Right out of the block I had to remind myself this was a fast race.  Even when I hadn’t run an ultra a week prior, it was hard for me to remind my legs that it was OK to hurt this bad as the pain would be over shortly. After the first tiny uphill, we were presented with a nice sloping downhill and I felt pretty darn good. Surprisingly good. But when that  downhill ended, so did the good feeling. The second we started our first real climb my entire body made the sound the Millennium Falcon did when Chewbacca did not properly fix the hyper drive.
The Bear ran right passed me.

Mile 2:

Fortunately, after falling downwind of the Bear, the course straightened just a touch with another downhill to boot. My legs resisted any attempt to go full force down the hill but at least I was able to pass the Bear again. Meanwhile, way up ahead, a tiny little boy of 15, Jaison was crushing the course.  Only on the longest of straightaways could I even see his skinny little frame, cruising down the street. But then another hill would get in the way and I would lose sight of him.  How can there be so many hills in three miles?!
Mile 3:

With just one measly mile to go I was doing everything I could to hold on.  My pipe dream for this 5k was to break 19 minutes and after the first two miles I somehow, against any logic, had a chance. It all depended on how much I faded and on how bad the remaining hills were. Well, evidently I faded too much and the hills were too bad because my last mile went by way too slow. It did feel like the course might have run a little long and in a marathon that doesn’t mean all that much.  But in 5k when you are hanging on for dear life it makes all the difference in the world.

Even after one runner sprinted passed me I think mistakenly thinking the race was over where it wasn’t and then promptly fell behind me again, I continued on my pace. Crossing the finish line in a time of 19:27, good enough for 8th overall, only one thing mattered.

The Bear was behind me.
I can tell you for sure I do not wish to ever be that Bear.  I met the runner underneath, a 2:31 Marathoner, and when he took the suit off after just 3 miles of running, he looked like he was fresh from the ocean. Fantastic work, Bill! Also kudos to young Jaison who finished fourth overall.

While this concluded my racing activities for the weekend, it did not conclude the fun. I got to spend the remainder of the day at the Georgia expo, being inspired by runners and hopefully inspiring a few along the way. I had more than a handful of friends competing in the marathon and half-marathon. A particularly and uncharacteristically warm and sticky March day in Atlanta had many pushing their own boundaries.  Some more than surprised themselves with their efforts and left me in awe.  I would have melted in this type of weather and many of them stepped up their game.

During my speech, I had been asked if I thought my goal for the 100 miler the week before had been to high.  I said if I try to reach something I know I can reach it isn’t a goal but an inevitability. Goals are meant to be hard to attain, otherwise there is no point in having them.

I think many on this day felt the same way.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Bangla-Dash

Being in the position I am, I run across more people than you can imagine who are taking on challenges, raising money for some reputable charity or pushing their limits. I wish I could just do a download of all of them onto my website and say "Check this out and this out and this out!"  Unfortunately, if I did (or even had the time to do so) my page would be nothing but links. However, once in a while something clicks which I have to share.

As you are aware, I am running 350 miles in 7 days on the Oregon Coast. The other day i received this email:

"Dear Dane,

My name is Chris Hesse, you probably don't remember me.  I first met you when we shook hands as I stumbled across the finish line of the Drake Well Marathon in 09.  (The hills, humidity and heat held me back that day!)  Our paths crossed once again in San Francisco for the SF marathon.  We chatted briefly at the expo and you blew by me at around mile 22!  (I think you were wearing a skirt?!)  [Dane note: We was right. I was wearing a Running Skirt to support my friends at Or so I claim.]

Anyhow, I am teaming up with an Aussie and we are running from Kolkata, India to Dhaka, Bangladesh.  It's around 180 miles and we plan to do it in four days.  It's not the running, but the cause that we are running for that is the big thing.  We are trying to build and support at least two schools in both Dhaka and rural Bangladesh.  If you could see what life is like here you would be blown away.

The story is pretty interesting, our training/runs are insane and it's all for a good cause.  Anyhow, if you have time, check out our website  for more information."

Well, I did and I think you should too.  Given the similarity of what we are doing in terms of miles and hoping to help the youth of this world, I felt it was kismet Chris wrote to me.  As such, I wanted to share this story so you can see it and read more about it.

Chris and his running friend are indeed doing what they can to make a positive change in the world.  I hope you do so as well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Graveyard 100 Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 7; 3rd Edition 
126.9 miles raced in 2012
Race: Graveyard 100
Place: Outer Banks, NC
Miles from home: 2313 miles
Weather: 40s, sunny, windy

It's been quite some time since I felt that good to be done with a race.

Ideally, I would like about a week to sit back and take in the experience that was the Graveyard 100. Soak in the gentle nuances of the race. Mix stories with my one-person best friend crew, Alli. Swap tales with the other runners. But I know I have to get this recap out of the way and begin preparing for what is my biggest challenge of 2012 - running 350 miles up the coast of Oregon in 7 days. That said, nothing will take away how wonderful this past weekend was to me.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, this was my third attempt at completing the 100 mile distance. No pressure anyone can put on you can compete with the pressure you put on yourself and I was pressuring myself a great deal. At the pre-race briefing when the Race Director asked for projected finish times and got to the “16 hours? 17 hours?” portion, I raised my hand. I was hoping to sneak in right under 17 hours if things went right.  Perhaps it was too lofty of a goal but if one sets easily reachable goals, what is the point? I have no desire to go through my entire life as just a finisher. One can sit all day on a couch, die of a heart attack and still be a finisher.

As the briefing wrapped up and we left the Kitty Hawk Pier House most thoughts were on the weather.  This race would run, for all intents and purposes, due south, completely open to whatever the weather may have in store for us. The usual concerns about the actual distance were a distant second in many minds. Forecasts called for a prevailing tailwind and mostly sunny skies but until you are actually running, never trust a single forecast.

Race Morning:

A 5 . race start is bad enough for a night owl like myself.  But when you must be assembled no later than 4:30 a.m to be shuttled to the start, it is worse. Couple that with staying about 40 minutes away in a hotel and having one of the most fitful nights of sleep ever and it is horrific. I did my absolute best to try and go to bed early, actually falling asleep shortly at 9 PM. But one hour later I was up and tossing and turning until around 1:30 a.m.  When my alarm went off at 2:45 a.m. I was quite tired.  However, as I loaded everything into the car, I felt surprisingly chipper. I guess I was simply ready to get this bad boy underway.

Standing at the starting line with about 80 other people, our feet were literally in the sand. The race starts where the road begins in Corolla and ends when you run out of islands 100 miles later.  Here, with the ocean crashing not 50 yards away, and a swirling cold wind nipping at our backs, we waited for the starting gun (figuratively, of course.) Some runners, like the gentleman I met named Mike Smith, would be completing their 55th 100 miler.  Some would be attempting their first. But everyone in between would be different by the end of the day.

First 20 miles: 3 Hours

This first section comprised the most diverse section of running for the whole day. From the pitch-black windiness of the beach to the beautiful sunrise to the varying lush neighborhoods of tourist trap Duck, North Carolina, at no point in the rest of the race would so much change happen so quickly.
I started off with a warmer jacket to brace against the wind but within a mile or so knew I would not need it any longer. As with all longer distance races, one has “plans” but they should simply be called “guidelines.”  I knew there would be water available every 6 miles or so and food every 20 miles or so. My one person crew, Alli (I was supposed to have two people but unfortunately some last minute circumstances with another crew member’s family meant some changes – luckily all is well now) was going to have her hands full. I had ridiculously overpacked supplies of PowerBar products, Beef Jerky, clothing and everything else because the last thing I wanted was to be wanting for something I did not have. My preparation helped not only me but other runners as well.

During these first 20 miles, I found myself in roughly 5th place or so for the vast majority of the time. Two runners took off like a shot and I let them disappear into the night. Let them run their own race. A few miles in a woman passed me and we shared a few pleasantries. Her name was Brenda and I would see her on and off for the next few miles. I made a wardrobe change with Alli, which took a little bit longer than I would have liked.  But I was only 8 miles in and I was already sweating profusely.

In addition, I was ahead of my goal pace for the race so I knew I needed to take a break. I had been carrying two handheld water bottles but decided I no longer wanted to do that and switched to my backpack. This would be the first of many changes throughout the day as I went with the whims of my own mind and desires and simply tried to do what made me most happy.  

As I approached the first aid station around mile 20, I thought about what I had been doing with my hydration and fueling. Everything felt just fine. I stopped briefly and ate a PB&J sandwich. Well, half of one. OK, half of half of one. I just wasn’t hungry. But Alli noticed my shirt was drenched and I needed to change it.  Here at 8 a.m., while it was hardly a hot day (temperature in the low 40s at this point) I was already a sweaty mess.

I refueled my pack, changed shirts and set off on the heels of a few runners who jetted out in front of me. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Graveyard 100 Approaches

I have run 202 miles without stopping.  However, I have never successfully completed a 100 mile race.

50 miles in at Umstead and feeling the heat.
Two attempts at the 100 mile distance have left me short.  In 2007, I attempted the Old Dominion 100 miler in Virginia. Ridiculous heat and humidity had me slogging along in second place until mile 75. Here I sat and watched at the aid station as two people came in looking like spring chickens (I had no idea how in the 90 degree heat and 100% humidity).  One left before me and the other after me.  In the next twelve miles as my energy ebbed and finally was completely sucked out me I had a decision to make.  I hit the 87 mile aid station and while the remaining 13 miles were on road I threw in the towel. 

I could have easily walked those 13 miles and have been well under the time needed to get a belt buckle for the event. Yet the exhaustion from the day and the fact I was going to China in twelve days to run a marathon as the guest of a shoe company named Li Ning made me decide that I needed to live to run another day.  Did it sting? Absolutely.  But this day I know I made the right decision. Ironically, the run in China was marked by food poisoning but one cannot plan for those type of things and I had a blast nonetheless.
Sweet victory.
When my life changed in late 2007, I moved across the country and soon began planning for my solo running of the American Odyssey Relay. I did not really know how one would go about running 202 miles straight but I figured a 50 mile race and a 100 mile race would be one good way. I signed up for the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler but got a horrible flu just a few days before the race.  I still went to the race thinking I could power through it but two loops went by and I was done.  I had only my second DNF ever. I went back to my hotel room and determined to find a 50 miler next week, signed up for the Ironhorse 50 in Tallahassee. One could say I recovered well as I ran, won and set the course record.  That was some sweet redemption.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

One More Mile Paternship

Very excited today to announce that the manufacturer of funny, inspirational and very comfortable apparel, One More Mile, is partnering with me to take some of the sayings I have used to motivate and hopefully titillate runners and put them on their clothing!

I have been working with One More mile since last year to put together some slogans which would not only tickle the funny bone of runners and spectators but also hopefully motivate them as well. With sayings like "It's not Sweat; It's Liquid Awesome" and "I have to Keep Going.  I Parked at the Finish" we are hoping to add a little whimsical nature to apparel being worn by runners across the nation.

You can find One More Mile shirts at expos across the nation or simply go to their website and order online!