Monday, June 23, 2014

Dizzy Goat 2104

Last year, Dana and I journeyed to Nebraska to run a timed event called the Dizzy Goat. Runners had a choice of running three hours, six hours, or 12 hours. Dana chose three and I chose 12, and our work was cut out. We had so much fun that we were back this year for another round.

It's a seven hour drive, and we rolled into Omaha just before 6:00 pm, picked up our packets, and met some of our Kansas friends for a bite to eat. A HUGE storm invaded Omaha just as we were checking into our motel, and we waited it out while our car was rocked by the wind. Omaha had been rained on all week, and flood warnings were in place. Friends on Facebook wished us "happy swimming". But I knew that the race course at Schramm State Park (20 miles SW of Omaha) was actually on the side of a hill with only the start/finish on flood prone ground. Turns out, the heavy rain was not enough to cause any standing water at Schramm.

The race course was a figure "8" loop of 3.25 miles, and each lap was ran in the opposite direction. My race started at 7:00 am, the 6 hour (which Dana was doing this year) started at 1:00, and the three hour started at 4:00 pm. This allowed all races to end at the same time. While a few 12 hour runners called it a day after a few laps, this infused a new wave of runners in two different waves during the day.

RD Scott Giddings is a man of many talents. He always seemed to have a smile and a few words for all of his friends, and I think he considers everyone a friend. I know how busy he must have been, but he made time to visit with most everybody. Myself--I'm usually a gripy RD on race day.

We checked in before the race, and were given a pink bracelet, which signified whether we were on an odd or even loop. After each loop, everyone got a different colored bracelet that told course marshals which way they should be running. This worked flawlessly--I never heard of anyone going the wrong way.

I wandered around before the race chatting with friends old and new (most were new friends.) It was super humid, and the forecast had mentioned a good round of storms, so I was considering not even bringing my phone or camera. I decided on bringing my iPhone in a baggie.

The start/finish aid station was stocked to the max. I surveyed the offerings and saw that they had everything I would ever need--and more. The usual fare, with added bonuses of watermelon and pickles. My favorite aid station concoction lately is an Oreo cookie with a pickle slice. Rocket fuel!!

But wait!! There was more!! Another table had dozens of cupcakes (which were Delicious) and later had several pies, amazing "death by chocolate" cookies, and believe it or not--baklava!!! I made an amazing discovery that two of these cookies propelled me exactly 3.25 miles which was perfect because that landed me right back in front of this table!!

We started right on time at 7:00 am. I was in the middle of the pack, but adjusted my position to near the back. I wanted to just run how I felt. and right now I was just trying to find a pace that felt good--and hopefully that would have a bit of forward progress. It worked out and the 12 hours of shuffling had began.

The GOATz (Greater Omaha Area Trailrunnerz) run at Schramm Park a lot, and they have cleanup days and do trail work on a regular basis. They had spent a day a few weeks back putting down chat on the trail to help with erosion. This chat kept 99% of the route from being a muddy mess. Despite the barrage of rainfall, almost all of the way could be run with clean shoes--not that that matter much to a trail runner! (Notice I said 99%, and almost all of the way--more on that later.)

Some people might ask is it gets boring running the same loop over and over again. To me--no. I run without music, and usually run alone and I never get bored. Running each loop in opposite directions means you see your friends and competitors all day long. I uttered "good job, good work, way to go, looking good, woo hoo, nice pace" hundreds of times. As I got tired, it turned into more of a jumbled slur "way to job, looking swerk, nice good." But I fed off of these hundreds of words of encouragement. I made myself TRY to look good when a possible "looking good" was coming.

The course had several landmarks. The turn into the woods, the top of the first climb, the aid station, the archery range, the three bridges, the stairway, and "What the Hill?" (More on that later.) It was just a short segment after another. All day long. Call me a simpleton but it never got old.

The Motivation Station was at the intersection of the figure 8. We hit it at 1 mile, and again about a mile or so later. That put us about a mile and a half from the start/finish. I never drained a water bottle even though the temps got up to 92°.

Just before hitting Motivation Station the second time we came to a little jeep road that connected us back into the figure 8. This little used path did not get the benefits of a gravel coating, and being a but troughed out, it was a mud slalom. Nice clay based slick shoe sucking slip sliding slush mud. Any momentum you had stopped here. Some runners took it upon themselves to make their own trial through the weeds and trees. There was nothing in the rules that prohibited this, and since I am no fan of mud, I finally after 4 laps, did this.

As sticky as this mud was, I did not want to end up like this runner. This mud would have glued my heavy arse down. I might still be there to this day had I fallen.

Scratching my way around the corner, was Motivation Station. Workers there offered encouragement, water, laughs, photo opportunities, and Di and I had a sexy leg rematch. Her words--"Legs (Ken) and I have a rematch. He tried to have a leg up on his competition. Troy didn't even bother to give an effort. I'll call this a tie between Ken and I based upon his creativity." There you have it--I tied in a sexy leg contest!!

Leaving the mud slalom meant 5 pounds of contact cement of your soles which gathered gravel with every step. The roots and trees for the following 11/4 mile were coated with scraped off mud.

All day lap after lap, it was encouragement and high fives from friends. It was hard to tell who was ahead or behind you, other than the super speedy dudes and chicks. The awesome thing about trail runners is that even the leaders and elites have an encouraging word. Near the end of the loop was a super steep descent that was an ascent every other loop.( More on that later.)

Once off the steep descent we ran by some old fish hatchery ponds. Strangely enough, I briefly got off course here twice--not that is was not marked adequately. I was just putting my head down and shuffling and made a wrong turn. Cost me about 50 yards of extra mileage. BONUS! :-) The sun came out around 11:00 and the heat began to rise. This section was all in the sun, as well as a 1/4 mile of pavement to the finish line.

Back to the start--and the buffet of food. I had brought a few GUs which I rarely use, but I had no need for them at this race. I feasted on cup cakes and watermelon and headed out for another loop. My buddy Larry Kelley had me a swig of beer ready after every lap. A small cup--a couple of drinks is perfect, and that was also perfect for him because he polished off the remainder each time. Not a man to waste half a beer. They also had a mister and a tub of ice water with wipe towels. I rarely use these, but after my 10th loop, I was pretty warm. Larry iced me down and put me back in tip top shape.

My lap pace slowed down a minute or so every lap for the first 6. Dana's race started at 1:00 and I thought I would be going at the opposite direction, but it turned out that I actually could run with her if I took about a 10 minute break after lap 6 which I did. She and I took off at 1:00 and she ran well, actually leaving me behind in a section or two. Her second lap went UP "what the Hill?", and it sucked the energy right out of her. She still found her run but the heat was wearing on her. I talked her into a third loop, and it was a bit slower yet. She decided to call it a day after 3 loops, which with the heat and the uphill on the next loop--a good idea.

Now about the "What the Hill?" This was a paved but narrow road that ascended or descended ~125 feet, according to the locals. I will say that I question that. That may be right, but it seemed further and steeper every time. I can run LipBuster repeats here at Turkey Mountain which has around 130 feet of climb (from where the starting line of our race was) in 1/4 of a mile. This "What the Hill?" is also 1/4 of a mile, and MapMyRun shows to be 125 feet. If you count the small amount of ascent once it enters the single track trail, it's around 147 feet.

Blame it on fatigue, the heat, or the mystique, but this hill is a beast.

Halfway up, there is a tree growing out of the road. More than once, I grabbed this tree, held on, and gasped for air.

My buddy Jason told me after my 9th lap that I had to get in 12 laps in order to get a medal. YIKES. That was theoretically possible, but I had no cushion and needed to pick up the pace to insure I reached cutoff. The direction of loop 10 meant going UP "What the Hill?" WOW. I was baked by the time I reached the top, but I made myself settle right into a jog. I ran that loop in 58 minutes, and needed some help cooling down. Thank you, Larry. I hoped I had bought enough minutes that I could make it. The next loop, including my cool-down time, was 1:04. The rules allowed you to go out on one more loop if you finished by 6:30 pm, which I did with 6 minutes to spare. RD Scott Giddings told me I'd need to finish that last loop by 7:30 though, and I knew I had my work cut out.

I had to climb the awful hill, but I made myself run the last little bit of it. My legs were wobbly, but I made them jog. Surprisingly, there were still a lot of runners on the course doing just what I was doing--trying to tack on some more miles. The shadows were getting longer and it seemed to cool down ever so slightly in the dense woods.

I even felt a breeze fading it's way through the trees. Someone I found some run that I did not know I had. Running the course in this direction seems to have more gradual downhill, and I focused on stretching my stride out about half a foot-length, I thought about speeding up my leg turnover and might have actually done so.

Blazing speed?? Well, it seemed fast to me at the time.

I was in a real footrace at the end. Someone was closing in on me--not that it should have mattered--but I gave it all I had, and she passed me. No shame in being chicked, especially when they're less than half my age! I did that last lap in 58 minutes. While it seemed like my fastest loop, my early loops were quicker. Still, I had to dig to get there, and was proud of getting it dome. Last year, I got 13 laps done an less than 12 hours. This years 12 were in 12:23ish. Coming off knee surgery a couple months back--I'm thrilled.

I took a few pictures early on, but most of these are borrowed from the GOATZ page on Facebook. Colleen Duda (left) and Di Liska (right) took a bunch of them. They are fun volunteers and were at Motivation Station for much of the day. Deb Bahr and Brenda Orr also took a few of the ones above--I'm just not sure which ones. Thanks for sharing.

Jason Dinkel provided this course elevation profile. It resembles a crosscut saw blade, or a row of shark teeth. My legs ache just looking at it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

LipBuster Challenge

Sometime at least 10 years ago someone was running or mountain biking up or down the trail that runs alongside Elwood Avenue and took a tumble on the rocks resulting in a bloody lip. How else could the LipBuster Trail have been named? This trail, depending on when you start grumbling about the climb, rises from 100 to 140 feet from the bottom to the top. It's a great place for some hill training, and many of my friends regularly include hill repeats as part of their weekly routine.

Since trail runners like a challenge--the more absurd the better--it seemed fitting that the TATUR sorts should host a hill repeat challenge. Born was the LipBuster Challenge: how many repeats can you do in an hour?

Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
84 signed up, and 80 came out and braved the threatening weather to run in one of the three heats. The directions were simple. No course markings necessary save one turnaround sign and one arrow divert the downhillers to an alternate trail to avoid congestion on a narrow stretch of uphill single track.

Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
Three heats, the first of which started at 7:00 am. It started to rain just before the start. Light rain with an occasional heavy downpour. The powdery dusty trail was being watered down, which for a few minutes helped. Then it got sticky. Then slick. Then sloppy.

Picture courtesy of Laurie Biby/Beyond Ordinary Life Photography
Cameron and Brandon set the pace early in the first heat. 

Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
A quarter mile out (up), and then a quarter mile back (down). SO why have an aid station halfway up the hill? Because that's what TATURs do! it was a PARTY!!! 

Picture courtesy of Laurie Biby/Beyond Ordinary Life Photography

Cameron hung on for first place with 10 laps, while Brandon also got in 10 laps but finished third place. These early times did not hold up though.

Picture courtesy of Laurie Biby/Beyond Ordinary Life Photography
Captain Ed Lebowski cheered them on, and coached them as to proper technique on descending a slick downward slope. This from a man who once slipped and landed horizontal in a mud puddle on a leisurely training run.

Picture courtesy of Laurie Biby/Beyond Ordinary Life Photography
The halfway Oasis served Pepsi, orange juice, beer, beer with orange juice, or a suicide mix of all three.

Picture courtesy of Laurie Biby/Beyond Ordinary Life Photography
As the hour wore on, those who were storming the uphills were reduced to trudging.

Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
A misstep could spell, disaster, but the falls were few. No busted lips this day. :-(

Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
As hard as the ascent was, descending was a quad killer.

Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
The competitive heat ran 99% of the repeats with few to no walking breaks. The section after the split in the trail was a treacherous hop and hope. You had to over-stride to hit a good size rock that got slicker as the day wore on. Missing that rock meant planting your foot on a steep slide-slope of mud. Actually, running this seemed safer--to me anyway.

Picture courtesy of Laurie Biby/Beyond Ordinary Life Photography
Once the separated trails merged, you could fly for a bit. Brandon decided to hit it hard his next couple of laps.

Picture courtesy of Laurie Biby/Beyond Ordinary Life Photography
The downside of flying down the hill? Missing Matt Carver's PANCAKES!

Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
Justin Huddleston and Jenny Hudspeth finish their heat.

Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
Happy Father's Day, Nick Huddleston! There were a lot of father son (daughter) teams.

Picture courtesy of Sue Ann Bement
Jason and Blake Bement lit up the 3rd heat. Blake motored up the hill again and again, running nearly ALL the uphills and finishing 6 laps.
Picture courtesy of Mishelle Hancock
Bob and Sidney Caston had a good day.

Picture courtesy of Mishelle Hancock
Team Carpenter--from left to right--Noah, Dad (Bryan), and Ethan all hauled away a huge medal for their efforts.

Picture courtesy of Mishelle Hancock
Grace and Grep Partney ran 5 and three laps respectively. Guess who has the bragging rights at  their house?

Picture courtesy of Sunshine Saldivar
Another little person was seen rummaging around the aid station. We gave him a handful of soggy M&Ms and sent him back up the hill.

Bob Doucette takes a selfie with his left foot
Bob claims he enjoyed a soda after the run. Question--was it a Pepsi--or a Bud Light?

Picture courtesy of Sue Ann Bement

Blake must have seen Bob smooching with his medal. Things like that seem to just catch on!

Brandon Payne was the overall winner, belting out 14 laps. That's 7 miles with 1850 feet of climb. Kayla Gudmundson was first female with 12 repeats, setting the female course record. Full   results can be found here.

A huge thank you goes to Susan Melon Westmoreland and Mishelle Hancock for spending their Sunday morning helping at the signup table, distributing the new TATUR shirts, and working the start/finish aid station. You girls are the best.

Hundreds of great pictures from 
are available for viewing and purchase.

This is a fun event. I heard that from people finished and had that runner's buzz going on. I was glowing for a week after doing it last year. Should we change it to 2 hour heats next year??

Saturday, June 7, 2014

5 mile dayz

Lately all I have felt like doing is 5 milers at Turkey. I dream of running 20-25 milers on awesome trailz I've never been to, finding new wonderlands within an hours drive of me--but I have just been to lazy and unmotivated to go.

Five miles is better than no miles though. Stack a few 5 milers in a week, and a 20 mile week is decent enough training to maintain whatever meager flicker of endurance I might have. The upward heat (yeck!) and the unexpected rains (yeah!) result in sickening humidity (bletchch!!) That explains a lot. Picture taking has been decent though. 

There's often something new to see on the trail. A new teepee just down-creek from Pepsi Lake. Not sure if someone lives there--and what an awful place to put it. Not far from there, I found something that might seem out of place, but to trail runners--they know EXACTLY what this is. 
Ya best not pick it up!!

I guess I can call my slump a taper--again. I do have Dizzy Goat coming up in two weeks.