Monday, June 23, 2014

"Mid-Year" Summary 2014

Playing with my dogs in a KC snow storm (2/4)
Okay, so it isn't technically mid-year yet. I know that. This year, it seems appropriate this year to do my mid-year breakdown slightly differently than I normally do. Usually, it is a summary of what has gone on from Jan-Jun. Makes sense, right? Well, this year on 6/10, I moved from the Kansas City, KS area to Pensacola, FL. That is so close to mid-year that it seemed logical to me that I do my summary as the part of this year that I lived in Kansas. That said, this is going to seem like a list of failures since I had some tough times with my running during this period for various reasons. But don't think that I see this part of my journey as a failure. I learned a lot, I worked hard, and I made sacrifices for what I want. That makes all of it a success.

Katya & me at Run Toto Run
The first part of the year was the conclusion of my training for the Run Toto Run 50k and the subsequent race. The training was amazing. I worked very hard, lost a ton of weight, gained a ton of speed, endurance, and even managed to adjust to running in ridiculous cold. I felt like unless the conditions on race day were unbelievably bad, I would be set for a great race. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. Just a couple days before the race, we got about a foot and a half of very powdery snow. The type of snow that doesn't pack down, rather it gets even harder to run on as people trample it. At the race, I ended up twisting my ankle countless times, and I ended up dropping out after about 21 miles.

The awesome workbench my dad & I built at my house
After that race, I took some time off running very much to work on getting the house ready to get on the market and to recover physically and mentally from the rigors of the race and the tough training that led up to the race. This time was pretty good for me. My body recovered pretty well, and getting the house ready for sale took up most of my time. Once we finally got the house back on the market, showings took up most of the times I would plan a run. I ran very little for several weeks. I wanted to be able to run a little more, but I needed to relax my desire to run in order to accomplish my desire to move to Florida. It was a worthwhile sacrifice.

Coming to the finish after pacing Will at Prairie Spirit
Eventually, I got back to running. It started with pacing my friend Will at the Prairie Spirit 100. He's a very inspirational guy, and joining him for the last 50k of that race was a true joy and pleasure. I was honored that he even asked me. He accomplished a huge PR at the event and was able to honor a family friend of his that had passed away at a young age due to cancer. The things that Will does to honor and support other people is so awesome. The world needs more people like Will. I really enjoyed the hours we spent on the trail together in the dark working our way toward his goal. When others slow down so much at the end of a 100 miler, he keeps trucking along so strongly. Incredible.

After pacing Adama for a few miles at Free State
I then was going to run the Rock On! Lake Perry 50k. It was a bit of a last minute decision to run it, I signed up about 4 weeks before race day. I had a couple pretty good training runs, but knew I'd taken too much time off after Toto. I figured I'd give it a go anyway and just see what would happen. After doing a pretty nice 20 mile training run with my friend Sophia, I decided to run the first half with her. She's a pretty bad ass runner, but I figured what the hell. Running the first half with her would either get me a huge PR or kill me.

Rock On! Lake Perry
We did start out together and we were having a nice run and some good conversation, as we always do. Within about 6-6 1/2 miles, I knew that I was not going to make my PR and I dropped back from Sophia. She was actually running even faster than her planned pace and ended up having a heck of a race. No way I could have kept up. By the time I got to the half way point and picked up my pacer and amazing friend Janee', I was exhausted and overheated from going out way too fast at the start. I did the best I could to keep moving, and Janee' did a great job encouraging me, but we both new I wasn't going to make it, so I dropped out at about 21 miles. I didn't mind dropping this one too much since it just meant more time back at the start/finish line spending time with many of my great friends, who I would be moving away from soon.

Justin Chockley & me before Rock On! Lake Perry
I spend the next few weeks getting in runs with my friends whenever I could and getting the house ready for our move. I wanted to spend as much time out enjoying running with my friends as I could. Race-wise, the first half of my year was pretty much a failure, but in reality, it was a great success. I finally accomplished my goal of moving to Florida, I spent time with friends, and I got in some pretty good training. I'm pretty pleased with how it went and what I did. Now, as I'm writing this, I am living in Florida and training for the Pensacola Marathon and maybe even the Croom Fool's 50 Miler early next year. As many of you know, I'm a business analyst, so here's a bunch of data & graphs that probably none of you but me will care about...

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Big Move....

Me running at the Rock On! Lake Perry 50k
Well, I actually came to the blog today to write my race report from the Rock On! Lake Perry 50k that I DNF'ed, but I have my big move on the brain and can't really focus on anything else without posting about this first. Hopefully soon I'll get that report written, but right now, I just have to post about my big upcoming move. For any of those that are not already aware, on June 10th my wife & I will be leaving our home in Gardner, KS (suburbs of Kansas City) to move to Pensacola, FL. Moving half way across the country, about 900 miles. A whole new world.

Pensacola Beach, FL
Why are we moving? A few reasons, really. One reason is the fact that I've been trying to get out of Kansas City for many, many years. It's a good place to live, I just really hate fall & winter. I do not like cold. I've wanted to get away from the cold weather for years. That also plays into one of the other reasons for the move. I've lived in Kansas City since about 1983, 31 years. That's a long time, especially when you are 36 years old. My wife has lived here her entire life. We both decided it really was time to try something different.

A nice view of the water and bridges in Pensacola
My wife has an aunt & uncle that have lived in Pensacola for many years, and their two sons have lived their whole lives there. My wife, Kristy, has been visiting the area fairly often her entire life to visit these family members, and she's always loved it down there. I visited with her about a year or so after we started dating (the trip was probably about 12 years ago), and I was in love with Pensacola immediately. I wanted to move there then, but she didn't want to. We visited again last year and both felt like it was the right time to make a change and try life down on the Gulf coast.

Goofy times with my Mud Babe/Trail Nerd friends
So now we've sold our house and it's almost time to move! I'm super-excited about this move, but there is one constant thought about it that makes me sad. My friends. Having lived basically all of my life here, all of my friends are here. I've made so many absolutely amazing friends here. Especially all of the awesome people I've gotten to know over the last couple years as a runner. Some I met through the Olathe Running Club, many through the Trail Nerds and Mud Babes, some through Facebook or even this blog, and some just randomly met various places. I have great friends here that I will miss desperately. They are fun, kind, awesome, inspiring, great people that I'm lucky to have in my life. I know we can all keep up together through the Internet and visiting one another, but it won't be the same not seeing them and running with them regularly. I will miss each and every one of them.

Running at Blackwater State Park NE of
Pensacola with my friend Jamie
I am very excited to make new friends, find new races, race new routes, explore new trails, etc. I have a couple runner friends in the area, so I look forward to getting to know them better, along with meeting some new people. Also, I have been keeping up with a couple running groups in the area, including the Pensacola Team RWB chapter, that I am looking forward to getting more involved with. I know those will be great ways to meet new people and make new friends. It really is a beautiful area, and for someone like me it seems like a runner's paradise. I like hot, humid weather. It'll probably take me a little time adjusting to the increased humidity, but I think I'll adjust just fine and come to love it. I certainly am excited that I won't have several months of blistering cold, ice, and snow to run through every year! Another big advantage will be my asthma situation. I have cold-induced asthma, so it doesn't even start to become noticeable until it gets below 40*, and really doesn't cause any problems until it's below 32*. Probably not a lot of days per year that I'll have to worry about that down in Florida. I look forward to that!

So the first event I have planned down there is the Pensacola Marathon in November, which I am SO excited about! It will not only be my first marathon in the state of Florida, but it will be my first marathon as a resident of the state of Florida! It will also be a great chance to see some friends. My friends Jamie will be pacing the the 4:30 group, which will be my goal time for a PR, so I'll get to run with him. Also, my friend Janee' Johnson is already signed up to come down and run with me as her first marathon, and I am working on getting her awesome sister Terri, and her boyfriend Brian to join us as well for their first marathons. I've also discussed it with a few other KC runner friends. I'd love to have a good group of KC friends joining me. What better sales pitch is there for a race than good friends, and drinks on the beach after we're done?? It's going to be great fun!!

So as of this writing, this is the countdown to our move on 6/10. It's going to be an exciting new adventure that I am very much looking forward to!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Next Steps...

Well, it's been a week now since the epic adventure of the Psycho Wyco Run Toto Run snowy insanity. It certainly took its toll on my body, so this week has been interesting. When I woke up Sunday morning (the day after the race) I was quite sore. Ironically, my left ankle (the one I twisted countless times during the race) felt perfectly fine, but my right ankle was quite painful. My quads, calves, shins, hamstrings, hips, back, and shoulders all felt the strain of the beating they took in the race. Seriously, that 20.7 miles in the snow took a greater toll on my body than any 50k I've ever completed.

Luckily, I'd had the foresight to set an appointment with my chiropractor and ART specialist, Jared Wisner at Wisner Chiropractic. Jared is an accomplished marathoner and a good friend. His knowledge of what distance running does to us has been beyond helpful to me. He did an excellent job straightening out my issues and really helped with my recovery. He even fixed the right ankle that was hurting me so much. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; Jared is the greatest thing to ever happen to my distance running. If you live in the Kansas City area, I highly recommend checking him out. I didn't do much working out this week, just some walking, weight training and yoga.

Now that my recovery week is behind me and I'm feeling pretty good, it's time to set my eye back on the future. So I need some new goals and a new focus. I've spent the last 27 weeks training for, running, then recovery from the race. So basically, 6 months of focusing on cardio (running) workouts. I want to switch up that focus for a while. Of course, I love running, so this time has been great, but it's important to change up the routine from time to time, so it's time to transition to a different focus. My next target race won't be until the Pensacola Marathon on Nov. 9, so I have more than 5 months before I'll even start training for it. Until then, I want to put my focus on the following: 1: Strength training/core training; 2: General fitness; 3: Get back to running in my VFFs; 4: Focus on faster, shorter runs. I'll detail my plans for each of these goals so that I can be successful. By implementing this focus, along with continuing to watch what I eat, I will be able to ensure that I am in excellent condition when I start training for Pensacola. My first marathon (2011 Napa Valley Marathon) remains my PR at 4:36:19, so I would like to break that PR finally. I need to be in better overall shape when I start training to make that happen.

#1: Strength / Core Training: This is going to be a huge key to my success and probably the most challenging part of my plan. I enjoy strength training, but I always struggle with doing it consistently enough to see the results I really want. I'm hoping to finally change that. The plan is to start the Strength Training II Plan that I got from the JCCC Weight Training class I took a few years ago. It was designed by Istvan Javorek, who is the school's head strength training coach and a former Olympic coach. It is a 3 day per week plan that I will start tomorrow (Mon. Feb. 17) and will do Ab Ripper X with each of the workouts. Also, one additional day a week I plan to do one of these P90X videos on a weekly rotation: Chest & Back, Legs & Back, Shoulders & Arms. On Friday, I did the 5 rep max test to get my starting points since the Javorek plan is based on percentages of max. This is an excellent strength training plan and in conjunction with Ab Ripper, it will really get me into outstanding condition. I don't want to become a big, muscle-bound guy, and that's not what this is designed for, but good muscle tone will help drop some of my fat and really does help with distance running.

#2: General Fitness: This is kind of a broad category, but all distance runners know "cross training" is critical to success, even if they don't do it they still know how important it is. The plan is going to start with yoga. I've set up (on the urging of a friend) a 30 Day Yoga Challenge starting Mon. Feb 17. The idea is 30 days straight of yoga, at least 10 minutes of stretching poses, or up to a full class/video. After the challenge I plan to continue doing yoga at least twice per week. I also want to incorporate cycling, P90X Plyometrics, hiking, walking, etc. Doing these things will help my balance, endurance, explosiveness, and strength.

#3: Get Back To Running In My VFFs: For those that may not be aware, VFFs are Vibram Five Finger minimalist shoes. When I ran in them, I felt light, fast and mentally strong. I stopped wearing them early in 2013 because I had a few triathlons on the schedule and I wanted shoes I could slip on and off faster than I can the VFFs. It takes some transition time to go from regular shoes to VFFs, so I'm going to start transitioning back into them. It won't take long since I've done over 1600 miles in VFFs in the past, I just need to re-acclimate. I have VFF Bikilas for paved runs and VFF Treksports for the trails. I'm VERY excited to get back to running in them regularly.

#4: Focus On Faster, Shorter Runs: Sure, I've worked on and been successful at getting faster since I started training for the Toto Run, but I still have a ways to go. I'm really not going follow a running plan, just trying to run regularly. I'll still do some long-ish runs, but the primary focus will be trying to run faster. If I want to PR the marathon I need to get faster. It's cliche', but the only way to run faster is to run faster. I will try to maintain around 20 miles per week, and at least one speed-oriented run each week. If I stick with this, I will definitely be in good position to be faster when I start training for the race.

If I stick with this plan and follow through, I will be in pretty great shape. I'm excited for the change in focus and I'm hoping my friends will help hold me accountable to these plans. Looking forward to an awesome rest of the year!!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Psycho WyCo Run Toto Run Race Report

Well, this was certainly one of the more interesting races I've ever been a part of. I started training for the 50k 26 weeks ago and it went amazingly well. I got thinner, I got faster, I got stronger. I really felt quite strongly that as long as conditions were good I'd be able to set a new 50k PR. Conditions were not so good. About a week before the race we got a big sleet storm that left everything icy, but runnable because it was not smooth ice. Then, just 4 days before the race, we had the first big snow storm of the year. At first I thought it'd be a good thing. The course is hilly and rocky, so I thought a good, packed down layer of snow would help make sure the rocky hills weren't too slick. Not so much how it worked out. It turned out to be about a 12-14 inch deep, light, powdery dry snow. There's no packing down that kind of snow. It was going to be an interesting race indeed. Leading in, I had high hopes and a great plan. I was going to run the race with my friend and fellow Trail Nerd/Mud Babe Emily Royal. She is an amazing runner, so I knew running with her would be a huge help. My goal was a new PR, which meant beating 7:00:29, but my stretch goal was 6:30-6:45.

It was a cold morning, but practically warm compared to many of our training long runs. It was about 22* with a forecasted high of 31*; not bad at all. Cold enough for my Husky, Katya, who was running the race with me, but warm enough to be tolerable for me. My awesome wife Kristy was volunteering at the main aid station, so we got up to the race pretty early; about 6:30 with an 8:00 race start. We pulled up to park right next to one of my biggest encouragers, Sherrie Klover (amazing ultrarunner). She gave me a nice pep talk while I was getting Katya's harness on and before she headed over to volunteer. It was great to see her and get some encouraging words. I am so grateful for all of the amazing runner friends I have.

We got over to the start area and friends started to roll in. One of the best things about running Trail Nerd races is having so many friends there. We all congregated and chatted while we waited for the race start. Everyone was quite positive about the race, but also a little anxious with the snow. Would the snow pack down and be runnable? Or would it stay loose and make it much tougher? Hard to guess; I'd never run in this kind of snow or this deep of snow before. Oh well, nothing I can do about conditions, I'd just stick to my plan until/unless conditions decided otherwise. We were just all ready to get started; we were all loosing feeling in our toes waiting!!

Eventually race director Ben Holmes called for us to go to the start line and Katya, Emily and I found a spot. At the start of this race, you go through a long field, up a small road, then turn onto the trail. Normally the field spreads out through the field, then bottlenecks as it enters the single track trail, but in the deep snow it was single file from the start. It made things interesting. If you needed to get around someone, you had to go through a foot+ of snow to do it. I was in a decent position, passing a few, but mostly I seemed to have started in a pretty good spot. Despite the snow, the first section of the trail seemed quite easily runnable, other than when we were passing, so we were carrying a decent pace and feeling good.

I had decided that I would start my Garmin watch at the beginning, then ignore it and run by feel. I wasn't sure what my pace was, but I felt like we were moving well and I was at a relatively low effort level, so I stuck with it. This section of the trail is generally pretty fast with only a few quick uphills that I walk when doing multiple loops. It was fun getting lots of compliments for Katya as the field was bunched together. I was really struggling to find a decent stride in the snow. Even with all the runners in front of me, it just wasn't packing down. It was staying soft and fluffy, which means slick. It seemed with every single step you slid at least a little. Even the screws in my shoes weren't helping.

After a few miles, we came to the Triangle aid station. The Triangle is an interesting section, but in my opinion, the most fun part of this course, no matter what the conditions are. It is about a 3/4 of a mile off-shoot from the main trail. Basically, you take a right, run 3/4 of a mile, then come back out on the main trail about 50 feet from where you turned off. You run that far to get 50 feet further on the main trail! But it's a tremendously fun section. Lots of good, fast downhills, just a few short, tough uphills, lots of quick switchbacks, and tree trunks to jump over. It's a fast fun section. Anyway, in the short section between the entrance to the Triangle and the exit is an aid station, so you get to it twice as you start, then finish the section. This station was being manned by my friends Deb, Heather, Amber, Darin, and a few others. On our training runs we've been stopping after the Triangle for water and food, so we would do the same for the race. As I passed the station, Heather asked if I needed anything and I told her we'd catch her on the other side. Even with all of the snow, the Triangle held true to form. Fast and fun. Katya and I both were having fun taking this section fast and jumping trunks and sprinting downhills. We both really enjoy bombing the downhills without regard for safety. It just seems to come naturally for us both and it sure is fun.

As we exited the section, Deb and Heather were there to ask what we needed. They are great friends and outstanding volunteers. At this station I gave Katya some special dog food. It is somewhere between canned food and solid food; think summer sausage-type consistency. After I gave that to her, Heather gave her some water while I grabbed a cup of water and a few peanut M&Ms for myself. I thanked them for the aid station workers for their help, then got back on my way. Emily was right with me as I left the station, so I commented that I wasn't sure since I hadn't checked my watch, but felt like I was on a good pace. She said were going pretty fast, so I thought about slowing down a little, but I really felt comfortable, so I just stuck with what felt good and kept going.

As we continued on, conditions remained the same. I was so disappointed that the runners going over the snow wasn't packing it down and making it easier to run. I was still slipping with most every step, and passing remained difficult because you had to go through the deep snow. The next little bit of the trail is again fairly non-nondescript until you get close to Fall Down Hill. There is a short, steep, fast down hill, then a bit of a steep uphill, then the infamous Fall Down Hill. It is well named. It is a pretty steep drop down from the top of the hill down to the bottom of the dam. It's fast running in good conditions, with lots of quick switchbacks to watch for. In good conditions, I like to say this hill makes me feel like a little kid. If you are confident in your ability to make the quick turns, it is a blast flying down this hill. Even in the snow, it was a fairly fast hill and Katya and I both had fun with it. I took a quick glace at my watch at the bottom of the hill and it read 1:01, which would have me on pace for about a 2 hour loop. Not bad in these conditions.

After Fall Down Hill, you come out on the bottom of the dam, run across to the other side, then trudge up the steep dam hill to the road where the mid-course aid station is located. This station is sponsored by Ultramax Sports (a running store) and assisted by my friends Erica and Carol. At this station I gave Katya what I have come to know as her power boost food. It is a GU-type gel food that is designed for athlete dogs and given via a little syringe-type dispenser. She loves it. The aid station had a bowl out for dogs and we gave her some water and I grabbed some M&Ms, water, and a Coke for myself, and as we left I grabbed a few Pringles. The next section of the course is a half-to-3/4 of a mile hilly road. We walk the uphill parts and run the downhill. As we walked the first part I ate some of the Pringles and gave a couple to Katya. Finally we got to the end of the road section and turned back onto the trail for Speed Demon Ridge. As the name indicates, this is normally another fast, fun section, but in the snow it wasn't nearly as fast. It's also where things turned bad for me. Not long after we got on the trail, before we could even get to the fast part, I turned my left ankle funny. It hurt. About 50 feet later I turned the same ankle. This would become a trend throughout Speed Demon Ridge and Fester's Wander. Turning my left ankle over and over.

Immediately after Speed Demon Ridge, before you start Fester's Wander, is Broken Leg Turn. There is a very long, steep, straight, rocky downhill that goes slightly toward the right, then right at the bottom there is a very sharp left turn. This hill is one I like to take fast, although you have to be careful with the turn when you do that. The turn was named after my friend Chris Nicely took the hill fast and caught his foot funny on the turn and broke his leg. Luckily even with the snow the hill was fast and had decent footing, so I was able to take it fast and make the turn. At that point I'd only turned my ankle a couple times, so it wasn't hurting too bad. Then we were on to Fester's Wander. This section has a couple huge uphills so steep you need ropes to get up if the trail isn't dry, but also has lots of fast flats and downhills. In good conditions, this is another fast, fun section for me, but in anything less than good conditions it is slow and a bit torturous. In this section I turned that left ankle several more times and started having to take more walk breaks to stretch it out and try to keep it loose. With every bad step it hurt a little worse.

After Fester's, there is a pretty decently runnable section of trail that helped settle my ankle down some before getting to the last aid station on the course at Shelter 10. This station was being manned by my evil twin Bryan, Corey, Shane, and a few others. This was a GREAT aid station. They were having lots of fun. I gave Katya more of the summer sausage-like food, water, water for myself and some chips for us both before we got back on our way. I think I stopped for a fraction too long, though, because as I left the station my ankle was quite sore.

From that station, you have the satisfaction of knowing you are only a few miles from finishing the loop, but the terror of knowing the 3 Bitches are coming up. These are three very steep hills, two of which are not runnable for me even in the best of conditions, but all three are torture when icy or snowy. With my ankle starting to hurt and the snow, I knew these three hills would live up to their name. They did. Every step seemed to make my ankle hurt a little more and wear me down a little mentally. Katya was doing well here, though. Normally she struggles up these hills, but she was trucking at a pretty decent forward pace through them which really helped me. Shortly after these hills you come to the finish line and the main aid station before starting the next loop. I'd finished the first loop in 2:19:37. Much slower than I needed for my goal, but with the conditions any my hurting ankle, I'd given up my PR goal anyway. At this point I had decided to just try to finish.

Working the main aid station were my awesome wife and good friend Wael. Wael saw me coming in and going to the drop bags, so he came over to offer his assistance. I told him I was good for the moment and he offered some encouragement. I gave Katya some more of her super-powered gel food, Kristy got her some water and I grabbed my handheld water bottle to take with me for the next loop and asked Wael to fill it for me, which he gladly did. I thought Katya would drink better out of that than she had been cups on the first loop. I told Kristy that I wasn't doing great and had given up my PR goal and just wanted to finish, but I didn't mention my hurting ankle. I'd hoped that by not mentioning it maybe it'd go away. I grabbed some Nutella wraps and kind of wasted some time standing around not wanting to get back in the terrible conditions. Finally, Emily and I started back out. I was hoping the flat, smooth field would offer a moment of relief for my ankle, but it was so slick through there that every step was a slide, which only made it hurt worse. Finally, I told Emily that it was really starting to hurt pretty bad and she encouraged me to hike as much as I needed to, but to hike "with a purpose"; meaning keep your arm moving and hike at a quick pace. I did just that, and we ran some as well.

Unfortunately, I continued to roll that same ankle. Maybe I was thinking about it too much, because normally rolling ankles isn't a problem for me on trails. By the time we got back to the Triangle, I was really hurting pretty badly. Deb, Heather, and Amber greeted me at the station and I told them what was going on and they offered lots of encouragement and support. Nothing beats my Trail Nerd friends when it comes to aid station support. I gave my handheld to Heather and asked her to fill it and I'd get it from her after we finished the Triangle section, then a moment of joy came in the midst of my misery. I noticed a box of Mike & Ikes laying on the table! I LOVE Mike & Ikes!!! They are my favorite, so seeing them at that moment was great! I didn't even ask if they were for us, I grabbed the box and dumped a bunch of them in my hand. I made a joke to Deb as we were heading back onto the trail that it'd probably take me an hour to do that short 3/4 of a mile Triangle section. Of course, Emily was having none of that. She got on the trail ahead of me and told me to try to run whenever she ran. I said okay and followed her lead while tossing Mike & Ikes in my mouth. They were near-frozen, so they were tough to chew, but they still made me tremendously happy. It's the little things that brighten your mood when you are struggling with pain in a tough race!

Emily led us through the Triangle slower than I had gone the first time through, but it still felt like we were moving pretty decently. We ran more than we walked. We came out of the Triangle and were back at the aid station welcomed again by Darin, Heather, and Deb. I started giving Katya her summer sausage-like food. Deb said, "well, it didn't take you an hour like you thought. That was only about 45 minutes." Now, normally I would have been quite aware she was not serious, but when you are tired and in pain, knowing you are struggling, you will believe almost anything. I responded, "Son of a bitch!! Are you serious??" She laughed and said that she was, of course, not serious. I shot her a nasty look, had it been anyone else I would have been pissed, but Deb is one of my best friends, so I smiled and laughed a little. I think there was a bit of a moment of tension for everyone between my look and my laugh. I'm not sure if they knew whether I was mad or not. Luckily it was Deb because I did need a moment of humor. It is really so great to have friends at a race. I got my haldheld back, grabbed some food for myself, said thanks and told them I probably would see them again. I was pretty sure at that point my ankle wasn't going to hold up for a third loop. They shouted some encouragement and we got back on our way.

I continued running when I felt like I could and walking when I thought it was hurting my ankle too much. It actually started to hurt a little less through this section through Fall Down Hill. Even with twisting it a few times again climbing the dam, overall it was hurting slightly less. We got to the aid station, I gave Katya her gel food and we started up the road and back onto the trail. I started thinking that maybe I'd be able to do a third loop after all; my ankle was hurting slightly less. Then I twisted it a couple times again and that crazy idea was gone. I was only doing two loops.

At some point, I don't remember exactly where, Emily's husband Matt caught up with us. He had been running the 20 mile with our friend Janee'. It would've been her longest run to date, but like most of us the conditions forced her to drop at 10 miles. Matt continued on without her, and when he got to the Triangle they told him I was struggling, so he sped up to catch up with us. I really hated hearing that Janee' hadn't made it, but it was nice to have Matt with us. Fester's was a tough section with the jacked up ankle, but we got through it. I did my best to run whenever Emily ran, so really, considering my ankle and the conditions we were keeping a relatively decent pace.

We got to the Shelter 10 aid station and I was quite pleased. I needed a break and I knew they had some beer at their station. Okay, if you've never run an ultra or a Trail Nerd race, you may think beer at an aid station is odd, but it's not here. My buddy Dave had joined them working the station after he ran the 10 miler, and he offered some encouragement and poured me some Boulevard Single Wide IPA. I bitched a little about my ankle hurting, gave Katya some summer sausage food and finally we got back moving. At this point, all I could think about was climbing the 3 Bitches again.

Well, we got there and it sucked. It seemed like every step on my left foot slipped. That didn't feel good. My ankle was absolutely killing me at this point. Honestly, I am happy with how I did in the conditions, but as we got closer to the finish, the disappointment of not finishing the 50k, much less setting my PR goal, was setting in and I was a little pissed. Finally we came over the last hill and I semi-limped over the finish line. Ben gave me a 20 mile finisher's medal, gave one to Katya, gave me a 20 mile finisher sticker, and gave me a word of encouragement. As I walked past him, I saw my good friend Matty. This is the moment where my disappointment got the best of me. I guess I just needed to let it out for a moment. Matty put his hand up to give me a high-five and said, "congrats, man, way to go!" I gave him a nasty look, didn't return his high-five, and said, "congrats for what?" Then I walked right past him. It wasn't until later that I realized what an ass I'd been in that moment and apologized. Anyone that runs races has been there, so he understood, but I still felt like an ass. As I walked down to the aid station, I slipped, twisted my ankle AGAIN, and fell. SERIOUSLY??? I got pissed again and threw my water bottle and may have yelled some profanity. Oops! That got everyone's attention. My wife, and my friend Megan were coming over and tried to help me up, another guy working the station tried to help me up, Ben started to come see if I was okay and the race medic Gay was making a beeline over to see if I was okay. Finally I got up and started limping over to the benches.

I told Gay what was going on with my ankle and she asked if I wanted her to look at it. I told her that would be great and sat down. She asked how long it had been since I first twisted it and I told her 15 miles. She gave me a confused look and said, "You did the 20 miles, so... 3/4 of the race ago?" I said yes, and realized how well I'd done given the conditions. I finished the 20 miles in 5:32:57, so my second loop was 3:13:19. Not terrible given the type and depth of snow along with an ankle injury for most of it.

After than I tried to warm up, had some chili and beer and talk/joked with my friends that were already there and as they came through the finish themselves. It was crazy how many people were dropping distances. After a while, Kristy and I headed home. So, here's how I look back on this race. I did the smart thing. Stopping when I did, my ankle felt much better later that evening and fine the next day, so I had avoided the damage I might have done with a third loop. That's something worth being proud of. Also, I had completed 20 miles on the toughest course I've ever run in the toughest conditions I've ever run in race or not. Together that is well worth being proud of. My training for this race was the most productive and successful training in my entire time as a runner. I lost a lot of weight, got a lot faster and stronger, gained a ton of confidence, and and had managed to follow a schedule for 6 months without any real aches or pains or major setbacks. That is, without a doubt, something to be proud of. I cannot let the weather; which is completely out of my control, ruin my pride in the accomplishments I made over the last 6 months. I've never been more proud of not meeting a goal. I'm excited about my plans moving forward, but that's a topic for another post. Runs like this are why I am glad I have this blog. As I've said before, I mostly do this blog for myself because I like to look back and read my old reports and remember the details about these crazy events. This is a prime example. I didn't hit my goal or even finish my distance, but this run was so epic I will be telling the story for many years to come.

HUGE thanks to everyone that supported me out there. Special thanks to Emily for sticking with me and keeping me moving during that last loop when I mostly just wanted to curl up and quit.

Here is an album of photos from training and the race. And here is my Garmin data for the race.