Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lean Horse Report

As promised, here are some pictures and a more in depth race report from the Lean Horse 100. The course was different from when I ran it in 2005. The first 16 miles of the course ran through the town of Hot Springs mostly on pavement and then up so a small lake (Lake Coldbrook.)Whereas the old course was entirely on the Mickelson Trail, an old railroad bed converted to a gravel trail, this year's course was ran through town and over Argyle Road, a hilly 12 mile section of gravel road that led to the Mickelson Trail. Not major climbs, but it turned a fast course into one that I'd call moderately difficult.

This trip, I had a lot of friends with me. Kathy was gunning for a finish to avenge here past 2 hundred mile outings--I was in that same boat. Roman, Susan, Caroline, and Charlotte were all running 100 for the first time. Dana and Brian were doing the crew babe duties.Most everyone seemed to be well rested and had slept well the night before.
Crew Babe wears a lot of hats. Kathy required some unique stretching before the race and Dana fixes her up.

Roman was giddy to get started.

Brian considers going back to the motel to sleep. But in fact, he stayed out there for most of the race tending to the faster runners from the group--Kathy and Charlotte.

The first couple of miles through town were on side streets, sidewalks alongside a river, and there was actually about 100 feet of single track trail!! AND, I turned my gimpy ankle HARD on the next to last step on this short section of dirt!! It hurt for about a block or two, and then gave me no more problems in the race. The gang spread out a little from here. Kathy and Charlotte sped ahead, and the remaining 4 grouped together, and occasionally we'd get strung out but stayed close for the most part.

We climbed the first hill and then descended down to Lake Coldbrook, and then through a campground and on to the first aid station.
Shortly after that, we spilled out onto Argyle Road.And the climbing began. The first 1.8 miles climbed 585 feet. Not ever really steep, but enough to keep you from running. It was enough to knock out some fresh legs, and I elected to walk it. All the uphills I would walk, and all the downhills I would try to make up for the slower pace. All in all, I was not putting any time in the bank, which is my normal plan of attack.But the countryside was beautiful--much more scenic than the first miles of the old course.The last 4 miles of Argyle Road reminded me so much of Heartland. Here, the dots in the distance are Roman, Susan, and Caroline.

From there, it was miles and miles of 10 foot wide gravel trail.About 35 miles or so out to the turnaround.Old steam engine powered trains that used this line could not negotiate steep hills, so the very worst climb was only about a 5% grade. Most of the uphills could be ran, although running too many of them would definitely cost you later in the race.A couple of horses looked on as we passed. (Actually, only one of them looked on....Anyone know why they one might have been blindfolded?)

Everyone was feeling strong at mile 24. We rolled into Pringle still full of energy.But notice the Zombie lagging behind. I was beginning to fall into a low spot, and this was early for me.Still plenty of fight though. It is not at all uncommon for me to hit a rocky spot, and then come roaring back. In fact, I had that happen 3 times during my race.

Meanwhile, 5 miles ahead, Kathy and Charlotte had endured a LONG boring section that was 100% in the sun--and it was about 90 degrees. They both had run a little low on water, and really needed to rehydrate.They both managed to regroup and continue on at a spirited pace. This section hit us hard as well. Susan took out of Pringle like she'd seen Big Foot. I tried to catch her, but to no avail. Roman and Caroline caught and passed me, and I just shuffled along not setting any speed records. After a while, I caught Roman and Caroline, and decided since there was a descent into Custer, I picked up the pace. Roman and Caroline were content to walk, and after running for about 5 minutes, I turned around to see how far I was ahead of them.And CRAP! I was running no faster than what they were walking!! But still, I continued to shuffle, and tried to just relax, stretch my stride out a little and just let gravity be my friend. I did not look back, and ran--such as it was. I trotted into Custer and the aid station there and actually had started to really feel good, despite the heat. I felt my pace felt good, and I actually had lengthened my lead over my friends by about 300 yards. Whoopie! I also had a few other runners in my sights. Dana watered me up, told me about how Kathy and Charlotte were doing, and told me Susan was still running great. I left out just as Roman and Caroline were coming in.

In 2005, I walked the whole way to the next aid stop past Custer.. I remember it being uphill all the way, and in fact, there were some inclines. But there were also a lot of flat sections, and I ran when I could. I started running for 200 steps, and walking 100. Anything to gain a little time, since I was looking at hitting the halfway point in 14 hours--too slow in my books for a probable finish. I had told Roman and Caroline we needed to pick it up, and I hoped they were not offended by my "advice."

The next aid stop at the top of the long climb was right at the entrance to the Crazy Horse Memorial.It was not this close, but you still could clearly see it from our trail. We visited it Sunday night, and I took this pic on the bus tour. Crew Babe told me I was only 10 minutes behind Susan and could catch her if I hurried. I was in and out of that pit stop like a Nascar driver, and I motored to catch Susan.

Meanwhile, Roman and Caroline entered another race after leaving Custer.They followed a runner as she took a wrong turn on a paved trail and went up and over one mountain after another and eventually the trail dead ended. This ended any chance they had of making the cut offs, but the race officials were gracious and transported them to roughly where they would have been had they not gotten off course. They continued on to the 50 mile turnaround, and dropped at that point, having completed 50 miles plus some bonus miles. How many bonus miles??? Well, Roman said at first it was 4, and then it expanded to 8. Last time I heard him tell the tail, it had grown to about 78 miles, giving him well over 100 for the day. Tells a tall tale, that boy! :-) Seriously, I know that had to be so frustrating, and I felt very badly for them. It is so easy to just follow someone assuming they know where they are going. And in this case, the girl they followed had done the race before.

The long downhill past Crazy Horse allowed some nice running. I set my Garmin to show pace per mile, and I started out seeing 13 minute miles. Disappointed, I relaxed and tried to speed up. Eventually, I was running about a 10:10 pace. It felt much faster, but with 40 miles on my legs, that was all I had. It did feel good to air things out some.I caught Susan and we ran the rest of the way to the turnaround, and talked about how excited we were to have this race in control. All day, the actual mileage between aid stations seemed to be a lot further than what was advertised. By our Garmins, the turnaround was at mile 50.9. We turned around and began a 10 mile climb back to Crazy Horse. We walked, tried to power walk, and actually should have mixed in some short running spurts. We hit the turnaround at 12:59, and had 17 hours to finish the race. That might seem like a cushion, but with the climbs and the hills in the last 16 miles, we needed to get moving. I just could not bring myself to do anything other than walk. Soon, sleepiness began to hinder our already slow pace. It seemed to take an eternity to reach the top of this long ascent.

I sat down for a few minutes at the aid stop at the top. Closing my eyes for a couple of minutes seemed like a good idea, and I could have conked out and slept the rest of the night. Crew babe snapped me out of it, telling me to get my ass in gear and get going. Susan really wanted me to run it in with her, and I needed to perk up. So I did. A little caffeine helped-coke and 5 Hour Energy, and ibuprofen. I did not feel like eating anything, but did grab a chocolate chip cookie from the aid table, and we shuffled out to enjoy 5 miles of downhill trail. We ran 80% of the 5+ miles back into Custer. I might have pushed Susan a little too much though. She was really tired by the time we got to the next aid station, and debated dropping at that point. Charlotte had gotten nauseated and had dropped at Custer (mile 65.) Susan finally decided to go on, and we ran out of Custer and proceeded to gradually climb. We ended up walking quite a bit, and the next aid stop at Carol Creek, we were way past the cut off. Susan decided to drop at this point. Since I had a world class crew, I was reluctantly allowed to continue, and I was willing to give it a go. I did have a couple of blisters that were giving me fits, and I took my right shoe off to tend to them. As I expected, it only made them hurt more. I then did some zombie math and with 9:30 to finish 30+ miles with a lot of hills, and with the temperatures by noon predicted in the 90s, I decided to not continue. I could have finished the distance, but not in the allotted 30 hours. I wanted the darn belt buckle.

Brian had taken all the other runners back to the motel, so Dana and I crewed for Kathy for the rest of her race. She had reached down into her Energizer Bunny reserves and was running with what seemed to be fresh legs. (Actually, I slept while Dana did the Crewing.) I did manage to hobble out of the car to see her finish.She was 4th female overall, and 2nd in the geriatric division (45 and over.) She is awesome. We are now tied with 6 hundred mile finishes apiece. I now am definitely running the Arkansas Traveller, and the Mother Road 100. How do I feel? Well, a little disappointed, but I doubt seriously I could have finished this race. I needed to run more of the gradual hills, and I really do need to run 100s at 170 lbs +/-, not at 185. I also need to resolve the blister issues. I used to tape my toes and heels. I will start doing that again. I also am going to try BlisterShield. Hydration? I carried 2-24 ounce waterbottles for most of the race and drank a LOT. Still, I only peed twice and just a little each time. The color was good. I took my electrolytes regularly, and was only nauseated for a very short time and that quickly passed. I still had fun, and I will get back on track. I still have a few more 100 milers in me.

We had a great time, and enjoyed being with our friends immensely. Dana and I also enjoyed having a few days all alone--something we need to do more of. We have decided we actually need to take a vacation soon that does not involve a race. Staying in the Black Hills and just playing on the trails every day running, hiking, and bike riding would just be amazing.If you have not seen this blog in a few days, scroll down--there are tons of pics from our play time.

Leaving South Dakota

Robert Frost wrote a poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". The last stanza is familiar to most, and very fitting to who we are.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


And today we left South Dakota for home. I could live there--it was hard to leave. And so the sun will set without us there to see it, but we will have our adventures with our friends to remember.
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lame Horse 70

Just a quick blurb from my weekend. Most of my pics from the race are on my real camera, so I'll blog when I get home.

Suffice to say that I was older, fatter, and slower than I had hoped. I did set a PR for 70 mikes in the Lame Horse 70. Good, right? No, wrong. The race was the Lean Horse 100, and mild 70 I was way past the cutoff and while they would have let me continue since I had Crew Babe, I did not think I could go 31 miles with my blisters and the relentless hills in the last 16 miles of the course.
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Friday, August 27, 2010

Sylvan Lake again

We had mulled over where to run today, and finally decided on Sylvan Lake again. I was wanting to try more of the trails there. It was all over 5500 feet and could go as high as 7200. We didn't want to drive too far or run too far, and by tackling some of the Harney Creek trail, we could meet all our requirements.  
The route headed out and for about half a mile was nice rolling trails--nice and soft--winding between the pines and boulders.  
Then we started to climb.  
Taking a breather. 
The trail really got steep.  And of course I wanted to go.
The views from the top were breath-taking. (or maybe it was the climbing and altitude.)
The climb back down from the tower was tricky but doable. 
Dana runs down across a burn area. 
I nearly double-rainbowed over the Cathedral formation. Very amazing. 
Got a bit more running in on the way back down. No surprise here.  
Our friend Mr Sun was with us today. 
We had spectacular skies. South Dakota is a trail runners paradise. 
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