Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rocky Raccoon Race Report 2012

Here is my experience at the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile Trail race on February 4, 2012.This was going to be my 3rd attempt at the 100 mile distance, and my last last 100 mile race was in September of 2010 at Superior Sawtooth. I was very well trained for this race, with weekly mileages of 78, 79, 84, 101, 105, 94, 71, 86, 85 and 65 in the weeks prior to the run.My running friend Ryan was going to be crewing for me and then pacing me for the final 20 miles. My sister Janette was going to be running the 50 mile event.
Prior to the race:
A heavy thunderstorm hit the area starting 1 hour before race start. It rained very hard and I knew that this weather would slow the trail down, especially if there was going to be standing water and mud. About 15 minutes before the start, the intensity of the rain lessened.
Loop 1:
I lined up about 30 feet back from the front of the pack. Donning a green North Face rain jacket, I wanted to stay dry while the rain was still coming down. Soon we were off, and I just tucked in amongst the crowd of runners. I was never able to see the standing water or roots ahead of me, and my feet were soaked in no time at all. My rain jacket was very waterproof, but I was heating up badly underneath it. I was drenched in my own sweat before we even hit the first aid station. My drop bag was at DamNation (mile 6.2) and decided to drop the rain jacket there. I remember following a line of runners at Amy's crossing and the front runner decided to stay left of the boardwalk and go through the water. I followed - and WOW!! The water was rushing across the trail and was nearly knee-deep there! Got to DamNation and got rid of the rain jacket. It was getting a little bit lighter, but decided to keep the headlamp for another 6 miles. About this time I was running with and visiting a bit with Dave Clark from Colorado. Nice guy, and we settled into a nice pace on the Dam loop. Towards the end of loop 1, I caught up with Kai Keliikuli from MI. Again, some great times visiting and running. Kai and I finished loop 1 very close together. In the final miles of the loop, we got to see Ian, Oswaldo, Hal, Karl and all the top dogs come past us. I kept my eyes open for Jay Aldous - as he is probably the world's best 50 year old ultra runner (he had just set the men's 50-54 year old world record for 100 miles on a track). I wanted to see if I could somehow compete with him. Jay went past, and I calculated that he was 16 minutes ahead of me.
1st loop time - 3:01:23 (9:04 pace) 26th place overall
Loop 2:
Ryan handed me some fresh water bottles, and I was out of the start/finish (Dogwood) in no time at all. I was running alone now. I felt good, but by mile 24 I was feeling some pain under the pad of my second toe (right foot). Felt like a rock or stone, so I just kept wiggling my toes around - trying to get some level of comfort back. I did not want to stop for this minor problem, so kept going. Got to DamNation (now 26.2 miles) in just under 4 hours. I was able to eat well, and was having PBJ's and lots of other goodies. Still running alone, I was zoned in and doing well. Passed a few people, but it worked best to keep going at my own pace. The foot was hurting pretty bad at the end of the loop.
2nd loop time - 3:09:39 (9:29 pace) 21st place overall
Loop 3:
I told Ryan about the foot, and we went for a change of socks this time. I put on the thicker DryMax trail socks and got out of there. The first few miles, it felt like the foot problem was gone. But somewhere before DamNation, the pain came back with a vengeance. I thought about it and decided to ask for a scissors at DamNation and cut a hole in my insole to alleviate the pain. I arrived at DamNation and asked if they had the tool I needed. Lynn Ballard came over with the perfect tool. I cut out a nice circle and put the shoe back together. After I left, that foot felt a whole lot better. I ran quite a bit of loop 3 with Dan Vega from CO. Dan is a very accomplished ultra runner and I was quite surprised to be running with him. Heck of a nice guy. He told me that he thought Jay Aldous had dropped.... What?? That would mean that if I keep things together, I might have a shot at winning the Master's (50 and over) division! Came in from the 3rd loop feeling physically weary, but my spirits were still good.
3rd loop time - 3:36:51 (10:50 pace) 18th place overall
Loop 4:
My right foot was still hurting in the same spot, so went for a sock change on just that foot. Now I could see the large blister under the ball of my foot, and also up between the toes. Drained the blister areas, and also slammed a Red Bull. Got out running, and it took only about a mile for me to start feeling like crap. I was lucky enough to run with Dan Vega again - he had picked up his pacer. We played a lot of leap frog on the loop as they would run at a pace faster than me, but then they would walk and I would slowly catch back up. During this time my stomach really started to tighten up. Any thought of food made me feel sick and it was getting tougher to put water down. I just wanted to get done with the loop. On the way back to DamNation, a fast-approaching runner caught up to me. It was Hal Koerner, and we got into DamNation at the same time. We left together and I encouraged him to "go get it" and gave him a fist bump, as he only had 8 miles to go. As Hal pulled away from me, I realized I had to cover another 28 miles and started to sink into a dark place. The rest of the loop was tough - especially the SUPER SLOP area between DamNation and Amy's crossing. This area was getting worse every time and had turned into a shoe-sucking-hell-hole. I continued on, and finally got toward the end of the loop. I recognized my sister Janette about 1/2 mile before Dogwood and taunted her a little bit before I passed her. She was finishing her 50 miles, and I had yet to run another 20 with nothing left inside of me. Despite slowing down considerably during this lap, the only person to pass me was Hal Koerner.
4th loop time - 4:00:06 (12:00 pace) 12th place overall
Loop 5:
Ryan was ready to pace me for the final 20 miles. I skipped the food and water at Dogwood, as my stomach had tightened up into a rock. I told Ryan that I will probably need to walk quite a bit this lap, just because I was totally out of energy.On the way out, I saw that Peter Vrolijk (Masters winner at Rocky the last 3 years) was about 56 minutes behind me. We ended up slow jogging quite a bit, but by the time we got through the shoe-sucking-hell-hole one more time, I was spent. "Ryan, I gotta do something with this stomach." I tried to void my stomach contents as Ryan gave me commentary of very gross thoughts to help me out. I had some success, and we walked the rest of the way to DamNation. I was able to drink some Coke there and ate a little bit of food. The Dam loop started out with a lot of walking, but we actually got back to a nice jog where the trail was a bit smoother. Got back to DamNation and NOW I had 8 miles to go. One more time through the (did I mention this before?) shoe-sucking-hell-hole and we were on our way to Park Road. Lots of slight uphill smooth trail here, so we power walked the uphills and jogged the flats. Along here, I was able to get some Hammer gel down and washed it down with water. I was getting much needed water back into my body. We went right through Park Road station and my sister was there cheering us on! We pushed pretty hard the last few miles. I knew we were getting close, and then we crossed a boardwalk where there was a board angled up a bit. Hmmm, never saw that before. Then there was another boardwalk that went into a "Y". Crap!! "Ryan, we are off the course!!" We back-tracked and Ryan shot ahead to find the point where we missed. We got there and went down the trail a bit. I asked the next runners we saw "Which way to the start/finish?" "That way!" Now we needed to turn around. We saw the turn we missed. The arrow was there but was drooping and soggy from the weather. We just didn't put a headlamp directly on it. Finally, we were back on track to finish up. On the last 1/2 mile, Wade Barrett blew past us, finishing with blazing speed.
We arrived at the finish line.
I was done.
Without Ryan to keep me going, I probably would have quit somewhere in those final 20 miles.
5th loop time - 4:31:32 (13:35 pace)
Finish time: 18:19:31 for
14th place overall
and 1st place Masters

Holding the treasured sub-24 hour belt buckle after 100 miles.

Masters Division winners L to R: John Maas 1st, Craig Murphy 3rd, and Peter Vrolijk 2nd

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Afton Trail Run 2011

First of all, the course was changed from Afton State Park to nearby Afton Alps Ski area, since the State Park was closed due to the MN state budget fiasco. I was feeling absolutely fantastic the morning of the race and was ready to go. I’d really like to say THANK YOU to John Storkamp and the entire staff of Afton Trail Run to make this event happen.
We received our pre-race instructions, and John advised us to “go out slow”. This is opposite to his normal advice of “Go as fast as you can, for as long as you can”. I would heed his advice and sit back on this one. He started us off with a sneak attack “Go” and we were running. Most of the first mile was easy and there were some areas that opened up so that the pack could sort out. We went down a service road, through some good water puddles and mud beyond the Meadows Chalet. Then there was a bit of single track trail to the left of the service road. I visited a bit with Eve Rembleski, who I knew would run well and I planned to keep running in her vicinity today. We got all the way around to the southeast part of the property (I believe it is called the Southern Switchbacks) and we had our first major switchback in the open ski runs. I could see the leaders and was able to count the runners. I was in 13th place with Eve right behind me. I thought a little about not being superstitious, but just to be safe maybe I should slow down on the next uphill and have her pass me.
I had just crossed an open ski slope and there was a slight uphill with a light pole just where the trees started again. The light pole had a switch box and junction box near the bottom of it. As I planted my right leg near the pole, I felt a very intense shock that came from the left and jolted me in the meat of my calf muscle. My calf muscle cramped up into the most intense cramp I have ever felt. I took one step off the trail. Eve asked what happened and all I could say was “I got zapped”. I tried stretching it out but the cramping would not let up. I just stood by the side of the trail, cursed a bit a watched the entire field go running past me. Runners kindly asked me if I was OK. I really didn’t know what to say. I started walking slowly downhill to get to the service road. Walking was extremely difficult and slow. I discovered that if I used just the forefoot of that leg and kept the knee bent, it didn’t hurt as much. But I was not able to let my heel touch the ground. I experimented a little more and found out that slow running hurt less than walking on it. After a total of 15 minutes of going nowhere, I decided to go back to where I left the trail and continue on with the first lap. I ran nice and easy and caught up with my sister JojaJogger. I visited with her a little bit and continued on. I was holding out hope that the cramp would subside a little more, and maybe I could start running a little faster. It did seem to let up a little bit, but the full flexibility never did come back. It hurt too much to let my right heel drop to the ground. With this altered running stride, I knew that I would end up injuring something else if I would attempt to finish the entire 50K.
I was now committed to finishing the first 12.5K loop. I kept running easy and passed a lot of people. There was one time where my leg cramped up intensely again and I had to stop. I tried to stretch it out and about 8 people passed me again. I kind of felt like a fool, as I was wearing my Arizona Road Racers pace team singlet that day. It says “PACER” in big red letters on the back. Some kind of pacer – towards the front, all the way to last, then passing people, stopping, going again…. What an idiot!
Got towards the end of the first loop and caught up with Mary. She was doing OK, but was not enjoying the run at all. I told her she was doing fantastic, especially on the downhill sections! We came down to the bottom of the ski slope and were treated to another climb up. This hill has a really steep section that was the toughest of the loop. My calf muscle hurt a lot on this climb. It loosened up a little bit on the slalom drop down to the start/finish area. I finished the first loop in 1:33 and turned in my ankle bracelet. A little bit later, Mary came in and told me she was done also.
I talked to John and Shari Storkamp after I came in and they became quite concerned about what happened to me. I explained the shock I felt and where it happened. They had me ride out with an Afton Alps maintenance worker and we taped/rerouted the path by that light pole. John also saw to it that Daryl and Lynn Saari took a look at my leg and checked me out. RICE was their recommendation.
***10 days post-injury update***
I did go to the doctor, and he is convinced that the “zap” I felt was either my plantaris tendon rupturing, or it was the quick tear of my gastrocnemius muscle. Or maybe even both. Being in the vicinity of that light pole was merely coincidence. Now, I feel like a fool for thinking I felt a strong electrical shock, but that is really what it felt like and where it happened. Today my gastrocnemius is extremely sore and still cannot run (or even walk very well). I will continue to rest, ice, compress, elevate and gently stretch the muscle so that it heals properly. The continued pain tells me that it was a gastrocnemius tear. It makes sense that I was able to run up on my forefoot with my knee bent, as the soleus muscle controls plantar dorsiflexion with the knee bent. The gastrocnemius controls plantar dorsiflexion when the knee is straight (like lifting the toes up on the trailing foot when walking). Right now I’m down…. But not out!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Something better than a Superior Sawtooth 100 race report

I still have not posted my Superior Sawtooth 100 race report. I've written most of it, but sometimes events come along that are more important!
Some of you might know my wife Mary (whom I usually refer to as "Schmoopie"). To get to the point, she has attempted to get a marathon Boston qualifying time for the last couple of years. She has had a very good summer of training, and her hard work has finally paid off.
Now to really get to the point;
Schmoopie ran a BQ of 3:59:59 at the Twin Cities Marathon yesterday!!!
I am so proud of her and how she ran this race! We will be making plans to be in Boston next April 18, 2011.
We're going to bask in this one for a bit - then I'll post that boring Superior race report.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Success at Burning River!

Good news!
JojaJogger had success at Burning River 100. She finished in an official time of 29:39:16!!!
There were some very challenging times, but she dug down really deep and got the job done!
Sorry I didn't post earlier, but my Blackberry went into a bad funk at mile 72 and did not recover - kind of like a lot of the runners out there.
The experience of crewing and pacing at BR100 was fantastic!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Burning River update

Here's the latest on JojaJogger's progress at Burning River 100.
She just came through Ottawa Point (mile 39.6) at 2:35PM,(9:35 elapsed time) which is right on her planned pace and 2:10 ahead of cutoff.
Just need her to stay steady and keep moving.
I will start pacing her @ mile 54.5.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Going to Burning River!

This weekend I am traveling to the Cleveland, OH area for the Burning River 100. Not as a participant, but to crew and pace for my sister JojaJogger.
She is taking on her first hundred!!!
The plan is to crew her for the first 50 miles, then when nightfall comes I will pace her through the night to mile 85.
There is a 30 hour limit - so I will do my best to keep her on track to reach her goal.
I'm sitting at MSP airport right now, looking forward to the adventure-filled weekend!
If there is time and internet coverage, I may even post a few updates on the blog here.
Run starts at 5:00 EST / 4:00 CST Saturday and 30 hours later is Sunday 11:00AM EST / 10:00 CST.
There also is a live webcast at so tune in and check up on us during the run!