Monday, August 20, 2012

Marquette 50 Race Report 2012

4th annual race in Marquette, Michigan and this is the 3rd time I've done it.  First two times in 2009 and 2010 I was around 5:20 and 5:40 but this time it was 6:03!!

Friday - drive to Marquette, set up tent in campground, lights out about 11pm with the family after some pasta salad and hydration.

Saturday - up at 5:40am, drink some coffee on my sweet Batch Stovez, stove. ( then a Clif bar and a banana.  Kinda full.  Get race gear on, fill water bottle and walk over to the start about 6:15am.  Nice thing about Tourist Park is that you can camp within 200 yards of the start line.  Warmer than expect 58 degrees is perfect.  I start with a long sleeve wicking shirt, but strip down to just shorts by mile 3.  Nice easy paved start for 1.5 miles, then ski trail, smooth and easy, then under the 550 bridge, and out on the Noquemanon trail past ROTC rock.  About mile 4, just over the railroad tracks things get interesting.  The north country trail here is the most rocky rooty climb for about 3-4 miles that any human has had to endure.  Luckily it was light out enough and legs are fresh enough that it was ok.  Mile 5 mark is an aid station (forestville) then more single track and tough rocky areas until 10 miles at Sugarloaf.    On this single track I broke away from a group of 5 runners just ahead of me to make up some time for my stops in the bushes.  Hammered the single track up and down and boardwalks over marshy areas pretty hard.  I felt like i was really moving.  Came out onto the road (550) and looked ahead and the first woman was just in front of me.  Then, about 10 seconds later, a bit more nausea and another trip to the bushes.  While there 3 of the guys I thought I had dropped passed me back!  CRAP.

Finally the 500 foot climb to the top, one guy had to stop half way up (passed him).   Several hundred stairs later we had a nice view.  The pic above is the view to the northwest where you will end up after going down the backside of the "mountain."  At the top I was about 20 yards behind a guy in red.  He reached the top and immediately turned right.  As he did I thought "They must have changed the course as we usually go left."  Well, when i got up there I looked and the markers clearly showed we should have turned left.  Don't know where the other guy was going but didnt see him again.  (after the race the director, Andrew, said someone complained about poor course markings and getting lost several times -- believe me the trail was marked PERFECTLY.  Orange flags every 200 yards and much closer in trickier areas, well done Joe and Andrew)

The trail down is really rough and rocky and downright dangerous if you stumble, so be slow and cautious.  Finally at the very bottom you can really turn it loose and get some speed down to the lakeshore.  Off in the distance you can see "little presque" point/island just offshore.  You will run right by it on the NCT in a few more miles.

After the shoreline section past little presque the trail crosses 550 road and covers some nice single track and an aid station before hitting "bareback mountain."  This tough climb is over shear slick granite rock outcroppings and is NOT runnable, just walking/hiking it works just fine.  Finally some rough, seldom used single track on the side of a pond take you to the old railroad grade and the "top of the world" loop. 

At this point I was feeling a little low.  I knew I wanted to walk much of the climb but forgot that the actual climb doesnt start for a mile or so.  In simple laziness i walked some flats and just tried to conserve energy since we were only about 19 miles in with 13 to go.  This is a tough climb, great view and FAST downhill.  I was careful not to go to fast up, lots of walking, and not too fast down (dont blow quads).  Kept refueling and drinking and was feeling good here after some nausea earlier.

Almost immediately after a short 1.5 mile single track connector its up Hogsback (pictured above)  What a brutally beautiful tough climb on some serious rock.  Hand over hand tough and at least 700 feet vertical in less than a mile.  TOUGH.  You climb up the face of it and it KILLS your hamstrings, and when its at mile 26 of a 32 mile race its hard going.  All the way up and then down the same front side but over south just a bit.  Problem is, you can't use all the elevation you gained because going down is dangerous too!!  Slow going over talus and scrabble and rock ledges on your butt.  Fun stuff.  finally down you hit single track then a connector to the last aid station. 

Finally 4.5 miles to the finish over same god foresaken single track of rooty rocky deliciousness and you're home.  At this point i was totally cooked, and only going on the idea that there was only 40 minutes of suffering left.  Unfortunately 40 minutes turned into 52 minutes with lots of walking and stumbling on the dowhill rocky sections.   6 hours 3 minutes of brutal Upper Michigan torture.

thanks to Andrew Grosvenor and Joe Jameson for a truly yooper toughness inspired event.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Grand Island Trail Marathon 2012, the 8th edition

Well, its in the books, the 2012 edition of the Grand Island Trail Marathon.  Although undertrained, it was still a great experience and I continued my string of 8 consecutive races here without missing a year.  I've always wanted a race that i could say "I did all of them!" - and this will be it.  I will continue to do them until Jeff Crumbaugh is dead or I am dead.  My wife says hopefully neither happens.

Got to the start on the 6am ferry and was FREEZING COLD, teeth chattering, muscles shivering.  Fueled up my race belt, got some water and decided to head out on a quick 1-2 mile warmup just to get some blood flowing.  Went up the road to the first right turn, headed out past tennis courts (interesting to see on a wilderness island) and the few houses on the main road by the dock.  About 6 minutes out I rounded a turn to the spot where the houses end and what is coming towards me??????? a small black BEAR!!!!!!!  Awesome.  He stopped, looked at me, and ran off into the woods.  Pretty cool.  Have seen bear 3 times out running and all have been in the UP.  So, i turned around and headed back to the start, not scared, just figuring that the adrenaline had warmed me up enough.

Race - mile 1 in 8:20 was ok, felt good.  But from 2-10 i felt like crap, just not feeling good.  Kept hydrated, fueled with GU and gel blocks.  About mile 12 I was running with two gals who were NMU grads (like me) and I started to feel better.  Picked up pace and passed maybe 6-8 people.  Mile 16 they have the bridge in so the beach section was omitted, nice touch, making it easier.  Mile 17-19 downhill and I passed another 3-4 people.  Held my own up the hill at mile 20 with some walking then caught Jeff Gaft at mile 21 or so.  We went back and forth just chatting and running together to the end when he pulled away to catch a guy he thought was in his age group.  3:56 and change, exactly 9:00 per mile, and 39th place.

I had fewer miles and ZERO speedwork for this race.  Fewer  miles than I've ever had for a marathon but I finished respectfully and by today (Wed) i feel great.  No muscle soreness really at all after the race and today I ran 11 miles.  In 17 days I have a tough 50k so will just keep the mileage up now and then really rest in the days before the next race. 

Pics below are from our week of camping in the Munising, Michigan area the week of the race.

This is Grand Island, with a perimeter of 26.2 miles it is the perfect place for a July marathon, the cooling breezes of the largest freshwater lake in the world are amazing.

Miles and miles of beaches with shipwrecks and relics everywhere.

Miners Castle, one of the most photographed places in the state taken from 4 miles away during our day on Sand Point beach.

Crystal clear water usually around 55degF, but in Munising bay its been up to 72F = good swimming for our kids.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Update July 2012

have not posted anything here since last December!!!!

after a wimpy winter (no ski racing, little training) and a wimpy June (went to Puerto Rico, then Detroit, then the UP) I got back on track for some running.

Summer plans Grand Island Trail Marathon #8 next Saturday July 28

Then Marquette 50k (more hills on new course) Aug 18

Aug 13-16th is the GHSXC team camp at Pictured Rocks -- see the pic of where we run below!?  Best running trails on earth.  Cool Lake Superior breeze, great swimming after, North Country Trail single track.

Then (hopefully) Top O' Michigan 100k - Gaylord to Mackinac in October

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Skiing finally

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

North Country Trail 50 mile Race

Pic one - race start about 1/4 mile in, just entering the trail.
Pic two - picking up my age group award.
Pic three - after the race looking real dirty from falling down 6 times.

Pic four - my age group award

Pic five - my cheering section (nephew)

Pic six - self explanatory

At the finish line I said "Why do people run these 50 mile and 100 mile races, it's stupid!!!!! People are not made to run this far!!" Well, that's how i felt, but now i think i maybe planning another after 24 hours of rest. Here's a brief run down.

Start - got there a bit late, didnt have my water bottle filled, went to fill it and almost missed the gun! Started off in 17-20th place or so and just cruised the first 4 miles to the aid station. Sweated a lot so i took my shirt off and then felt much better. At the aid station i got only water because i was using my own Gu. Every 30 minutes for the entire race i had a Gu or Gel Block. Nothing else seemed to sound good and required too much chewing.

Miles 5-10 I made the mistake of following the 3rd place woman and going too fast. It seemed to be a pace that was easy and relaxed but in hindsight 9:20 miles were too much for a 50 mile race. This part of the course had no mile markers so I was a bit uneasy about where we were in the race. When we hit 11 miles I thought it was going to be 13 miles which was a bit demoralizing.

Mile 10-13 i had a bit of an upset stomach and knew that i was going to have to make a quick trip to the bushes. After a quick stop to lighten my load i felt much better.

Mile 15 had a huge long hill which was actually nice because i just slowly walked it. Nice downhill after then about 3 miles of flat single track for easy cruising, still feeling good.

Miles 18-24 were non-stop hills. Now, I've run a lot of marathons and a lot of races in my day but never have I experienced hills like this. It was brutal. Walk up breathing hard, slam your thighs (ugh) going down. All i could think was "This is killing my thighs."

Mile 24-25 flat and easy into the halfway point and my wife and the race start/finish area. At the half point my wife had two bottles of GuBrew ready and helped me get my iPod shuffle too. She refilled my Gu supply and I was off in 3 minutes. I also dumped some water on me and towelled off.

First half summary - a little tired, but not too bad. what's odd is i had at least 4 falls in this first half. I RARELY fall when running on trails so can't explain why it happened. I was right on top of hydration and Gu/food.

Miles 25-30 - I was totally alone for this hour. Weird and demoralizing. Had two guys in front of me but I let them go. At this point I was still in about 18-19th place.

Miles 30-35 I caught a guy in red shorts and stayed about 30 yards behind him, just pacing off him and relaxing. Being alone in an ultra is a little disconcerting because you never know when you could make a wrong turn!! (foreshadowing) It was good to just follow and listen to music.

Mile 35-38 Still feeling ok and now doing a bit more walking here and there on smaller hills. Hit the aid station at mile 38 that that had my drop bag. Gathered up all my Gu with CAFFEINE and 2xCaffeine (thanks nick!!!!!)

Mile 40 was that big long hill from mile 15 again, just walked it and hung with two guys right in front of me. I eventually caught them and was now in 17-18th place for sure as someone was counting off for us. One of the guys was definitely 40+ so i wanted to stay near them. As I passed them on a downhill they said "nice job!"

Mile 41 - BAD NEWS. Tuned into my music and all alone and tired I made a wrong turn. Actually, I didnt make a turn. The flags on the RIGHT meant turn right to do the last 10 mile loope, i didnt make the turn and kept running straight. The trail was nice and flat and I was feelign good and moving along thinking I would catch some more people. Suddenly i came to some more flagging which was coming out of a trail on the right (where i should have come out at mile 49!!!) and eventually I saw cars and people cheering. All I could think was "Holy crap i'm at the finish." I glanced at my watch and saw 7:12 - there's no way i just finished in 7 hours 12 minutes i thought. I began to turn around and head back to where I missed the turn and then some lady yelled "come on come on, the finish is up here." I wanted to go up and finish!!! It took about 10 minutes (a mile) to get back to the right spot and get back on course. In the meant time four runners past me and I lost 19 minutes total. I was demoralized, had missed 20 minutes of hydration and food and felt like crap. When i finally got back on course a serious calf muscle cramp set in. I knew it was probably lack of salt. I wish I had some salt packets with me (live and learn). I hobbled downhills as that's when it seemed to be the worst. The section from 43-49 miles is never ending hills. up and down and up and down. Now, if you are a runner from the mountains these probably wouldnt seem like much, but if you are 7.5 hours into a run they KILL you. Walking up was no problem, actually maybe enjoyable. Running down kills you. Slamming those thighs that have nothing left.

Aid station 43 - "Do you have any salt?" was my first question. "yes, right here" the lady said. I opened two salt packets, dumped them in my mouth and washed it down with a few swigs of water. The salt tasted like some sort of drug (maybe a crystal meth addict can chime in?) and within 30 seconds, literally, my calf cramp subsided. Whew. I walked out of the aid station to drink some more water and have another caffeinated Gu with the salt. From here to the finish it was just more hills and more walking. I seriously thought someone (or two or three) would catch me but nobody did. I guess at this point everyone is just going slow (12 minute - 13 minute miles).

At the finish I felt relatively good, hydrated and fueled. No horror stories. The only real negative was the nausea after the race. For a good two hours I felt very sick to my stomach and couldnt eat or drink any more until this morning.

Numbers First 25 miles 4:10 (exaclty 10 min/mile) Second 25 miles 4:53 (11:40 per mile) Wrong turn 19 minutes (crap!) for a 9:22 finish time total. 3rd in age group (45-49) and 22nd of 143 overall. I was seriously hoping for a time of 8:30 or so, but for a first 50 mile i am happy i guess.

Had my wife there which was very nice and a very big moral boost at halfway then my sister and her family came for the finish too. My wife has babied me now for the last 24 hours and she's great!!

Why a 50 mile? I've always been intrigued with a distance longer than a marathon for a couple reason. In high school one of my dad's friends ran Western States 100 and I just could not imagine running that far after racing 5k's. Then Nick Lewis, one of my former high school runners did Leadville and placed 2nd. This motivated me to think more seriously about it and after signing up last year and getting sick this year worked out. Thanks for motivating me to do it Nick!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

North Country Trail 50

the countdown is on .... 3 weeks (20 days actually) until the NCT 50 miler. gulp. I've been training specifically for this race for .... well, my whole life. I had my fill of 5k's in high school. Moved up to 10k's in college and 20's. Hit a few half marathons here and there. Switched almost exclusively to ski (nordic) racing marathons (30-40-50k) in my late 20's and 30's. Now its time for a 50 miler RUNNING race.

I've had long runs of 18, 18, 24, 32, 18, and 18 miles. I wish I could have gone as high as 35-38 miles, but it just didnt work out. Oh well. Too much running makes running not fun for me, so I will just have to see what happens.

I HOPE to hit the first 25 miles in just a bit under 4 hours. 3:45 is exactly 9 minutes per mile and that might be a bit fast for the first half. I may try 9 minutes per mile running pace and just walk the hills, walk while eating, walk while drinking, etc. This will bump my 3:45 up to 3:55 probably... then the second half we'll just see what happens.