Gen-no's 4-OH! Run 50k Report

Well, this was an interesting one.  Normally I'm kind of known for running as many races as I can get into.  Even if I need more miles than the race I will run the race then add on miles later before and/or after.  Why?  A race is just more fun than a training run; you get the energy from all the other runners, an official time, maybe a shirt and/or medal, and an official race to count toward my race stats.  Well, this weekend worked out to be the exact opposite, and it was well worth it!  The Hospital Hill Half Marathon is the oldest road race in Kansas City (or so they bill it as) and (according to the TV news) the second oldest half marathon in the US.  It's a bit popular in the area.  Last year right after I registered for it I found out I had a stress fracture in my foot so I didn't get to run.  This year I was once again registered to run it.  On May 1st (about a month before the race) Gen-no from the Trail Hawks (one of the trail running groups I'm in) sent out an exciting message to the club.  She was planning a 40 miler on June 2nd (same day as Hospital Hill) to celebrate her birthday.  They were going to do four loops of the Land's End loop on the Clinton Lake North Shore Trails.  Yep, that sounds like more fun!  So I ditched the Hill to join up with the Hawks to celebrate with Gen-no.

A shot of the lake from the blue trail
We met up at 6 am at the Corp of Engineers parking lot at the lake; well, near it anyway.  The gate to the park was still closed so we had to park just outside and carry much of our stuff over to the parking lot.  Gen-no's awesome husband was setting up and manning an aid station at the trailhead for us.  It was the greatest aid station of all time!  Watermelon, bananas, fruit snacks, water, wraps, Nutella, cold water, soda, beer, and more!  Impressive!  I haven't run further than a marathon since my first (and only) 50k back in October and that was on a rail-to-trail so I wasn't sure how many loops I'd get done.  I went in with the plan of doing at least 20, hopefully 30 and if everything went perfect get my first 40 mile.  So my plan was to start slow, run my own pace (even if it meant I was solo the whole time) and see what I could do.  Really for me this was just going to be a solid training run so I planned to try a few things and learn some lessons along the way.

The plan got off track pretty much immediately.  They had decided to add on an extra 1 mile section before the first loop on a section of trail I've never run before.  It was a pretty easy section of trail so the speedsters in the group took off.  I had to keep up since I didn't know where we were going and I have a tendency to get lost on an unmarked trail.  We ran sub-10 min pace for much of the first 3/4 mile.  Obviously running a sub-10 is not a problem for me in a shorter run, but running that fast for the first part of a 20-40 mile run is not a good way to get started.  Typically the first mile should be the slowest so you can warm up.  Once we got onto the white trail and I knew where I was going I slowed way down and dropped back from the pack trying to make up for starting so fast.  I settled in well behind everyone enjoying a nice, relaxed pace for the rest of the first loop.  At one point on the white trail on the way out a couple ladies took a wrong turn and Gary (lead Trail Hawk) went back to get them back on track then caught back up with me.  He ran about the last mile or so of the white trail on the way to Land's End with me.  It was nice chatting with him discussing my upcoming goals, strategies, etc.

Gary resting up after running 41 miles with Gen-no
At Land's End we caught up with everyone and I had a mini-Larabar and an S-Cap.  My plan for the day nutrition-wise (I'm still very much experimenting on what I need to eat for ultras) was to eat some Stinger Chews and have an S-Cap every 45 min, a mini-Larabar & S-Cap each time through Land's End and a half turkey & cheese sandwich each time through the aid station at the trailhead.  I felt like that was a pretty good place to start with experimenting with more solid foods on a long run.  So far it was working fine.  Once everyone started up again on the blue trail back to the trailhead I waited and dropped back to the back of the pack again.  I held my own pace mainly keeping to myself again.  Not that I'm anti-social; these are all people I would just about give anything to get to run with, but they are faster than I'm ready for so rather than kill myself trying to keep up I just let them go and kept my own pace.  Besides, there are worse places to be alone for hours than the Clinton Lake trails!!

Another shot from the blue trail
We got back to the trail head and I was still feeling pretty good.  It was warming up some, but still fairly cool.  I had a piece of watermelon, my half-sandwich, an S-Cap and refilled my hydration pack and added some more Nuun tablets.  I was using my Camelback waste pack rather than my backpack.  I like it much better, but it only holds 50 oz rather than the 70 my backpack holds.  Today wasn't too warm so I felt I'd be fine with the smaller, more comfortable pack for the first couple loops then I planned to switch to the backpack.  I also changed out of the Vibram Treksports I normally run in and into my Adidas trail shoes.  I've been toying with the idea of wearing the shoes on the longer trail runs to protect against rocks.  This would prove to be a mistake later on.  We wasted a ton of time at the aid station eating, filling up water and, really, just standing around talking.  Finally we started off again after about 20 min at the station.  Too long in my opinion after only 11 miles on the trail.

Coach Coleen was a little emotional
after Gen-no presented her with a
hand-made medal after the run
We were doing washing machine loops (reversing direction each time) to keep it interesting so we started off on the blue trail this time.  I wasn't too far behind the group on this section although I was still keeping it slow and holding my own pace.  I was enjoying a nice day on the trail and time with great people, even if I wasn't keeping close enough to join in the conversations.  All was well through the blue setion of this loop (a little less than 4 miles).  When I got to Land's End I was just a minute or so behind the group.  It was starting to get pretty warm out, especially standing in the sun at the Land's End clearing.  I had another min-Larabar, an S-Cap and drank some of the Nuun in my pack.  We didn't hang around at the clearing for too long before we headed off on the white trail on the way back to the aid station.  The group was going pretty close to my pace this time so I stuck with the for about 4 miles or so.  We had some fun and interesting discussions and generally enjoyed ourself.  One of the funniest parts of the run for me was on this section.  Someone made a comment about how it was some much nicer to be running the trail with everyone rather than running the roads with no shade at Hospital Hill.  Almost immediately Coleen hollers out, "Huh, Bryan?!?!"  I laughed and told the ladies that I didn't know that I had been registered for the half marathon and decided to come run trough the woods all day instead.  They laughed and Coleen said, "I love that you'd rather come run the trails than run a race you were registered for."  I can't believe it myself; again, I'm a big fan of running races rather than training runs.  With a couple miles left on the white trail before the trailhead I was getting pretty thirsty and had run out of Nuun.  I slowed way down for the rest of the loop so I wouldn't overheat too much without anything to drink.

Coleen & Gen-no (L to R) at the end of her run
I finally got to the aid station and made one of the biggest and dumbest mistakes I've ever made on a run.  I was so thirst after a few miles in the heat with nothing to drink that I grabbed a 16 oz bottle of cold water and chugged it down.  As soon as I finished it I looked at the empty bottle and thought, "crap, I'm going to pay for that one."  I took an extra S-Cap and started filling my backpack.  I was so distracted by my mistake chugging the water that I forgot to grab a mim-Larabar for the Land's End clearing and I forgot my sandwhich.  I also didn't take advantage of any of the food at the station; no watermelon, no banana, nothing.  How can someone get this many things wrong at one aid station???

Gen-no & Coleen post-r
As I was getting onto the white trail for loop number 3 it was clear I was in trouble.  I wan't more than 30 feet in when the water sloshing in my stomach started making me feel sick.  Not to mention that was almost the exact moment that I realized I'd forgotten to eat anything and I was kind of hungry too.  But all I had was some Stinger Chews and I couldn't waste all of them now so I just had to deal with it.  I dropped way behind everyone.  I was cursing myself; I know this would only be my third ultra distance run, but how could I make that many rookie mistakes all at the same time??? STUPID!!!  I was honestly hoping that I would throw up so I could get all that water out of my stomach, but I tend not to so I just had to deal with the sloshing.  I caught up with the small group that was still on the trail at Lake Henry as they had stopped so Coleen, Beck & Deb could tunr around for a 1/2 loop and Gary was ready to vote for a Hawk name for Beck.

Once everyone started again, I was basically at a walk still trying to get my stomach to settle down.  Mentally I got very negative at this point.  I was upset with myself for doing something so stupid.  Add to that I was getting some blisters on both my pinky toes from running in shoes.  I should have stuck with my Vibrams.  I haven't had a blister in over a year since I started wearing them.  Why did I change?  Why did I do so many stupid things at the aid station? Why this; why that?  All stupid, negative things to be thinking about.  I finally trudged into Land's End and everyone else was long-gone as expected so I didn't really stop for long.  I just kept on my way walking mostly, running when I had a good downhill.  I just ket trying to focus on the fact that once I reached the aid station again this would be my second 50k run and my longest run ever.  Not by much, but the 50k I ran in Oct was actually 30.78 miles so this would beat it by 0.22 miles and was on a much more challenging trail.  I got to one mile to go (mostly uphill from that point) and decided no more of this; I was going to run the last mile.  I did and got to the aid station to cheers from Coleen!  She didn't care how slow it had been or how badly the last 12-13 miles had gone for me, she was upbeat, excited and encouraging.  That really lifted up my spirits after those last very negative 5 miles.

Gen-no's final steps of her 41 miles!
I had obviously decided to call it quits at 50k.  I would have loved to get in 40 but it wasn't in the cards for me this day.  I had treated the clock the same as a race so I started it when we started running and didn't stop it for aid station stops or times we were standing on the trail or at Land's End talking so I ended up with 31 trail miles in 8:19:12.  Way slower than I'd have hoped, but I made it and I learned a ton.  In the future I am going to try eating mor chews than I am now, not switch from my Vibrams in future long runs unless it proves neccessary and definitely not chug a bottle of water when I still have running to do!!  Coleen, myself and several others that came and went sat around chatting waiting to hear from the 3 runners (Gen-no, Gary & Bill) that were still out on the trail.  They called and Coleen ran out to meet them so she could run Gen-no in to the finish.  We all stood anxious knowing they'd be back soon.  Finally they appeared and we all cheered!  Gen-no was basically sprinting into the end and she and Coleen had left Gary & Bill in their dust!  Certainly an impressive effort by Gen-no!

We sat around together talking about the events of the day and Gen-no gave her coach Coleen a home-made medal, which made Coleen cry!  She then sat down and pulled out the medal she'd made for herself.  Very fitting, she was without a doubt the star if the day!!  As I drove home from Lawrence the song Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw came on and it got me thinking.  I'm not a big fan of his and I'm not even a big fan of the song, but after spending all day with these people a song like that gets you thinking.  The song is all about a man that learns he's going to die and goes out aand does all the huge, insane things he's dreamed of.  It's about attacking your life like you have nothing to loose.  That's what the people I spent my day with do day in and day out.  They set huge, crazy goals and more importantly they go out and achieve them.  They live big, they work hard, they inspire.  It was an honor to spend such a special day and share such a great trail with such amazing people.  I'm glad they invited me along to be a part of it.

He said: "I was in my early forties,
"With a lot of life before me,
"An' a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
"I spent most of the next days,
"Looking at the x-rays,
"An' talking 'bout the options an' talkin’ ‘bout sweet time."
I asked him when it sank in,
That this might really be the real end?
How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news?
Man whatcha do?

An' he said: "I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

He said "I was finally the husband,
"That most the time I wasn’t.
"An' I became a friend a friend would like to have.
"And all of a sudden goin' fishin’,
"Wasn’t such an imposition,
"And I went three times that year I lost my Dad.
"Well, I finally read the Good Book,
"And I took a good long hard look,
"At what I'd do if I could do it all again,
"And then:

"I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

Like tomorrow was a gift,
And you got eternity,
To think about what you’d do with it.
An' what did you do with it?
An' what can I do with it?
An' what would I do with it?

"Sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And then I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I watched Blue Eagle as it was flyin'."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

"To live like you were dyin'."
"To live like you were dyin'."
"To live like you were dyin'."
"To live like you were dyin'."


  1. You did an awesome job!! Its all about learning and adapting! Nutrition is such a touch one to get a handle on! We have 8 months to get things in gear! COngrats on a great 50k!

  2. Nice pics, an informative posts. Thanks for sharing this to us and looking forward always for more updates. Great job well done, Congratulations !

    Tough Guy


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