Blue Springs 50k Race Report...

Well, I did it!  I finished my first 50k!!  I'll warn you now, this is probably going to be quite long, it was a pretty wild journey so it won't be easy to sum up quickly.

It all starts with Saturday evening.  This race is a VERY low key event, no hoopla, no pasta feed, no expo.  In fact, they didn't even have a permit to use the trail so we had to keep our race bibs tucked in our pockets out of view!!  With no pasta feed we decided to have our own.  There was a pretty decent group of us running in this race so we decided to have it at my mother-in-law Rosie's house.  Kristy and I met Rosie over at her place.  I worked on cooking the penne with vodka sauce, Kristy worked on the salad, and Rosie worked on the bread and getting the table ready.  Jill showed up first, happy and excited as always!  Then Mark showed up (causing Jill to go into a panic and run upstairs), finally Team Ruhs (Ron & Bobbie) and Lindsy pulled up.  Jill freaked out again with the arrival of Lindsy, who is apparently Jill's long-lost twin or something.  Lindsy even arrived with gifts, she had made stained glass frames for us all, one for Jill, one for Team Ruhs and one for Team West.  They had also picked up Mark & my race numbers and shirts.  I loved that the bibs were from the 1999 Brew To Brew race!!  We had a great dinner, food was good, conversation was great.  This is one of the most fun groups of people I've ever had a chance to be around.  It was a wonderful start to a pretty awesome weekend.

Sunday morning, race day.  Mark had gone home and was meeting us up at the race, Jill stayed at Rosie's house while Ron, Bobby and Lindsy filled up our guest rooms.  I woke up at 4:00 am and took a nice warm shower to wake up.  I had slept quite well Saturday night, somehow over the course of all the races I've now done I've gotten pretty good at sleeping well the night before.  I used to never be able to sleep before races.  Of course, at 4 am, it doesn't matter how well you slept, you're tired anyway.  My mind was going 100 mph, I couldn't believe it was the day of my first 50k.  Kristy slept a little later, she was going to take care of our pets, a pet sitting client, meet Rosie and then come out to see the start of the race.  I went out to the kitchen for a couple bowls of Wheaties Fuel (it is the breakfast of champions afterall).  Lindsy, Ron and Bobbie were all up and about as well, getting stuff ready, having breakfast, etc.  We left the house around 5:00 to head over to Rosie's to meet Jill so she could follow us.

We got to the race and met up with Mark and Elaine.  It wasn't too cold temperature wise (about 45*), but there was a pretty stiff breeze that cut right through my clothes and made it feel quite cold.  Jill hadn't preregistered, so she headed over to pay and get all signed up.  Mark, Lindsy and I were running our first 50k's, Ron & Bobbie were both running the 50k while Jill & Elaine both were running the half marathon. 

The race got started at 7:00 exactly, still dark, still cold.  Mark and I planned to run the whole think together doing the run/walk plan I've been using for my long runs.  We would run the first 0.9 of each mile, then walk the last 0.1.  I started my Garmin which was set to remind us at the run/walk intervals and we were on our way.  No more than a minute or two in we saw Rosie & Kristy who had shown up just in time to see us starting.  I switched on my headlamp because it was a crushed limestone trail and I didn't want to accidentally step any stray larger rocks and we were on our way, ready to complete a huge accomplishment.  Although I did 27 miles at Patriots' Run (which technically counts as an ultra) I just didn't feel like an ultra runner.  I felt like the 50k would right that wrong and make me a true ultra runner.

Things were going great!  Mark and I were having a good run and good conversation.  The trail was gorgous and the sun was starting to come up.  It wasn't very long before I switched off my headlamp.  It started to warm up as the sun came up, so I was pretty happy happy about that.  I was already thinking about pulling off my arm sleeves, ditching my long pants for shorts and one of the two layers of shirt I was wearing at the first turnaround were Kristy and Rosie would be waiting for us.  That thinking didn't last very long.  The wind picked up again and I was pretty cold again.

We felt great for most of the 11.3 miles to the first turn around.  The only problem was the wind was drying out my lips and that made me feel like I needed to drink more than I really did.  I think I was getting a little over hydrated.  My stomach was getting a little upset, but not too bad.  I stopped drinking for a while in hopes that my stomach would settle a little.  I was eating Clif Shot Blocks every 45-50 minutes and I felt like those helped quite a bit.  I got some new Powerade bottles for my FuelBelt, some new Clif Shots and dropped off my headlamp and some of my cold weather stuff that I didn't need anymore, got a kiss from Kristy and the Mark and I headed back out on our way.

From there things didn't get better.  We were slowing down slightly, but still holding a pretty good pace.  Unfortunately my stomach was getting better, but my legs and hips were getting worse.  I did my best to keep up during each of the run intervals, but it was getting harder and harder to keep running.  Finally when we were coming up on mile 17 I told Mark I needed to walk that mile.  I had hoped it would help my legs feel better, but it really didn't.  We continued on through the next few intervals with the run/walk again.

At about mile 20 I was walking again.  Mark was still feeling strong so I told him he was free to go on without me if he wanted and he did.  He stopped and waited for me when Kristy and Rosie had parked just before passing the start/finish line again around mile 21.  I walked past them without stopping and they were asking if I needed anything and how I was doing.  I told them I wasn't feeling well at all and my hips hurt so I couldn't stop so I need to just keep walking.  Mark & I headed off and tried to run a little again.

By then the wheels were really coming off for me.  I knew it would be hard but I would be able to fight through alone and finish and I really hated holding Mark back.  He really looked strong and ready to keep going.  I told him to head off without me and do his best.  He did and I went back to a walk.  I got one nice boost of energy when I got to the 22.06 point.  That point put me at 1,000 total running miles for the year!!  I got up the strength to run a little at that point.  I couldn't help but think about what 1,000 miles meant.  I became a runner in November '09, so this day was just a couple days short of 2 years exactly since I started running.  In '10 I ran a total of 709.16 miles, now in late October after having almost 8 weeks off in the spring with a stress fracture I was passing 1,000.  Unbelievable!!  How far I've come in such a short time, from barely being about to run the 60 seconds of the first Couch To 5k workout to having run 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, a full marathon, a 27 mile race and now fighting through my first 50k.  In almost exactly 2 years.  Although I felt such pain, I also felt such pride.

Not too long after that Bobbie passed me looking strong, then Ron, then Lindsy.  I was great to see that they were doing so well, but I was struggling so bad.  Then came a unique race experience at mile 24.5, something that had certainly never happened in any race I'd run before.  There was a turn off of the main trail that you took up through a field and onto a residential street.  The course had us taking that street a very short distance to the end of a cul-de-sac and back returning to the main trail the smae way we left it.  As I was getting to the end of the cul-de-sac a man came out of one of the houses and started walking quickly towards me, he looked pretty angry.  He got to were I was walking heading back toward the trail he started yelling, "Didn't you see the No Trespassing sign??"  No, told him, I did not.  So he said back, "the police will be here in a few minutes to remind you. Someone must have taken the sign down, but we do not want you people in our neighborhood, you better get back on the trail."  I was tired, not feeling good and not happy with how my race was going; now I've got someone yelling at me too??  I told him I was already headed back to the trails and he should just simmer down, he would survive the tragety of people running on his street.  He followed me all the way down to where the trail met the street and angrily pucked up a sign from the trees yelling, "see, I told you it was here!"  I told him he was a lazy jackass and continued on my way.

A guy came jogging up slowly behind me around mile 25 and slowed down to walk with me.  He asked me how I was doing and I told him I was struggling.  He said he was doing okay, but was very tired so he'd walk with me for a while.  He told me he was from California and is working on the 50 States Marathon Club.  He had run a marathon the day before in Salina, KS and was now getting MO by running this 50k in Independence then was heading home.  He was a really nice guy and we spent most of the next mile and a half fast walking together.  He decided to run for a while, so he went on his way.  At this point I was mostly walking.  I managed to pick up a jog every now and then for short periods, but I couldn't hold them for too long.  I got to 26.2 miles finally.  I had been posting my progress to Facebook with my phone and at this point I posted the following: "26.2 in 5:39, completely dead but I WILL finish this."  I was really having a tough time moving forward at all.  I got to the final turn around, only 4.15 miles to go.

The aid station at the turn around had run out of water and left so there was only a cone there with no sign or anything.  I turned and started heading back to the finish.  I was out of water, out of Powerade and thirsty.  I was just looking forward to the next aid station so I could get water.  Right as I was turning around another runner got there and was surprised to find no aid station.  She said the next one had been running out of water too, so we could only hope to find water when we got there.  I hoped they'd have water, if not it was going to be an even worse trek back to the finish!!  I trudged along.  I told Kristy later that I found an odd motivation at this point.  I had bought a 50k sticker for my car and I really wanted to put that sticker on my car.  I reminded myself how good it would feel if I could just make it back to the finish.  I jogged a little, I walked a little.  I got back to the aid station (leaving me 2.5 miles to go) and luckily he had some water left.  I filled my bottles and kept moving.  The gentleman at the aid station was very encouraging and told me to stay strong.

I continued on.  At this point I have to admit something that sounds a little crazy.  I was probably more physically and mentally exhausted than I had ever been.  I felt like I was going to break down and cry.  Not due to the pain, not because I didn't think I could make it to the finish.  No, it was the exhaustion.  It felt like as a child when you got so tired you'd cry, no good reason, it's just the only thing you have the energy left to do.  Well, luckily I managed not to break down, I kept moving forward.  My Garmin started beeping that the battery was dying.  Hmmm, another odd source of motivation.  I didn't want the run to get cut off when I download it, I have to find a way to make sure I can get through this before it goes.  I started jogging again.  I made it to about 1 1/2 miles to go and I was spent again.  I knew there would be no more running from then on, it was going to be a long, slow walk to the end.

Then all of a sudden I see my wonderful wife Kristy and fellow Olathe Running Club member Janee' walking toward me.  They had walked out to help me finish.  I had about a mile left.  I really was going to finish!!  I told Kristy and Janee' that I had nothing left and they both said they knew as soon as I could see the finish line I'd run to it and finish strong.  I almost laughed, there was no way my poor legs could run again.  It turnded out they were right, as soon as I saw the finish line I smiled and started running (well, slowly jogging) toward it.  As I got closer I saw my friends there all cheering for me, Rosie taking pictures and Dick Ross from SeeKCRun there taking pictures as well!  I raised my hands in the air as I conitued to get closer and closer.  I finally crossed the finish line, stopped my Garmin and went to the ground.  I was excited, exhausted, everything all at once.  It hadn't gone as well as planned, but now there was no denying that I AM an Ultra Runner!!  I did it!!  7 hours 29 seconds, I had planned for 5-7 hours, so I only missed my window by less than a half a minute.  I'm fairly happy with that.

After the race and after I had collected myself a little and gotten some energy back up we all got together for some pictures.  We all congratulated one another, got my key hook race "medal" and said our goodbyes as Ron, Bobbie and Lindsy were leaving for Omaha and Jill was headed back to Auburn.  It was an unbelievable and emotional day.  One I will not soon forget.  Obviously I feel I could have done better, but that is the best I had at the time and I did my best. 

The last race I truly trained for was the Napa Valley Marathon on March 6th.  My stress fracture set things back for me.  When I found that my foot was healed enough to run these races this fall it was too late to really train and get a solid base built up to do it right.  I've done the best I can and I am extreemly proud of what I've been able to do.  But it's time to start looking to next year and what I can do to improve going forward.  Right now it is time to taper for the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon on November 12th. 
after that I don't have any more races until the Louisiana Marathon on January 15th.  I have gotten a training plan to get me to the Louisiana Marathon and a training plan to follow from there to the 44 mile Brew To Brew race on April 1st.  I'm hoping this training and the lessons I learn during it and the lessons I've learned so far will help me improve my performance in marathons and ultras next year.

I have so many people to thank so I cannot list everyone by name.  The people that shared this day with me deserve huge thanks and congratulations, Ron, Bobbie, Lindsy, Mark, Jill and Elaine.  My mother-in-law Rosie and my amazing wife Kristy for coming out to support us and to crew for us, we couldn't have done it without them.  All of the folks from the Olathe Running Club that have shown me support and given me encouragement, especially Janee' for coming out to see me finish and help me get to the finish line and Sherrie for all of the advice and encouagement she's given me.  Thanks to all of the amazing and inspiring people on the Good Guys vs. Bad Girls 2011 Run Competiton on Facebook.  And thanks to everyone else that has followed my journey, offered support and or given me encouragement along the way.  And if any of you actually read all the way through this, thanks for your patience and for following my journey.  This is just a step along the journey, a big step, but just a step.  The journey continues....


  1. awesome job!! Congrats and putting that 50k sticker on the car felt awesome right?!


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