Got shells in my shoes

I ran the Dances with Dirt 50K (32 miler) in September at the Pinckney State Recreation Area.

It’s a fairly brutal race.  There’s not much climbing, but it tempts you to run fast, which can take its toll later on.

It goes through Hell, Michigan, too.

It also goes off trail. The trail markers are hung on trees and it’s up to the runners to pick their route through the woods.

This year something rather common happened – someone vandalized the course markings, moving them and leading the runners into a dead end gully. Our group spread out, climbing hills in search of the legitimate markings.

The run course also took us off trail and into some rivers. After finishing the race I found shards of broken freshwater clams shells in my shoes (ouch) and a couple complete shells embedded on the bottom of my shoes.

I clearly hadn’t recovered from running 100 miles at Leadville a month earlier, but I didn’t feel too bad. I bruised both heels after aggressively running downhill which came back to haunt me as the miles piled up.

I also tried a couple new products in anticipation of maybe using them at Leadville next year.

First, I used some Dirty Girl Gaiters. The goal was to keep sticks and stones out of my shoes. They didn’t work. The Velcro attachments didn’t stick on the shoes. I’ll try them again and see if I can’t improve that Velcro attachment. They just might not work at crazy races like this.

Second, instead of my Nathan running pack, I used a handheld water bottle from Amphipod.  The aid stations aren’t too far apart so a single water bottle works well. I also was able to keep some gels stashed in the pocket. I’d need to use two of these at Leadville and I’m not sure where I’d carry my emergency clothing. But as the weather at Leadville seems to be getting warmer, I’d rather stay cooler by not wearing a pack.



The Night before Leadville

Leadville, Colorado – At 4am tomorrow morning, they’ll fire a shotgun at the corner of Main Street and Sixth to start the 30th Leadville Trail 100 mile run. Despite the early start, I look forward to being in that group.

It’s been ten years since I first ran this event. With a finishing time of 24 and half hours, it remains my fastest time after 5 more tries.

That may change this year as I’ve run about 200 more miles in training for this event. I also did some run training in the Appalachians earlier this year. I’ve noticed an improvement, too. I ran/hiked about 45 miles over 4 days around Frisco, Colorado and never felt too tired.

On the negative side, I’m 10 years older and about 3 pounds heavier. My weight could have been a bigger liability had I not lost about 24 pounds of winter blubber during the past 5 months. Weight is such a major factor at Leadville. Running with an extra 10 pounds of fat is like carrying a gallon jug of milk. Besides the added work, it’s tougher on your body. This is magnified in Leadville as the trail is often going up and or down.

One other negative? The race course is longer. They’ve added about 2.3 miles.

As for my race strategy, I am not doing much differently this year.

I have chewable vitamin C tablets with me. Last year I craved orange juice, which seemed to improve my upset stomach. These little orange tablets may help.

I’m using gel packets instead of gel bottles just because the aid stations have them. For solid food I have some Fig Newtons and Shok Bloks. I’m going to try avoid other solid food until later in the race in hopes that it helps my stomach. My  stomach totally cooperated 10 years ago.

Overall, I am hoping to run more segments where I’ve walked in the past. I hope to stride up the mountains a little quicker too. We’ll see.

You never know what’s going to happen over 100 miles.


Leadville Trail 100: Run #6

Sometimes I think I write these race reports just so I can remember what I did.

Anyway, I forgot to write about last year’s Leadville Trail 100 mile run. Here’s what I recall.

For one, I had a support crew. My girlfriend Lori came out for her first Leadville race and helped me through the course. I had hoped to introduce her to Jenn from IMBA who was crewing for her boyfriend but didn’t get the opportunity before the race. When I ran through an aid station about two-thirds into the race, they were next to each other chatting. Jenn, this is Lori. Lori, Jenn.

I did have stomach issues again before eventually vomiting about 60 miles into the run. Even drinking water was making me nauseous. So, right before the aid station I took four strong gulps of water. Bam! Everything came out and I started on Stomach 2.0. The ugly side of ultras.

Still, my new and improved stomach still wasn’t 100%. I craved orange juice.

With about 6 miles to go and the sun beginning to rise for the second time during the race, I ran past a mellow dude sitting at a bonfire. He said, “Run between the cans.” There were two columns of aluminum cans on both sides of the trail — AND ONE WAS AN ORANGINA! I stopped in my tracks and asked the camper if he had more Oranginas. He did. I offered to wait while he went to retrieve one from the cooler, but he insisted I keep running to the finish. He’d catch up with a cool, bubbly citrus beverage in hand.

He never did.

After running 90-some miles, you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to fixate on such an event. No, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a hallucination.

At the finish line, Lori was kind enough to run to the store and buy some OJ.

And fortunately she was at the finish. I ran the last 12 miles faster than ever before. So fast that Lori would have still be sleeping at the hotel when I got to the end. Realizing this, I waved down a car with about 4 miles to go. I asked if they could call Lori and let her know I was well ahead of schedule.

“What’s her number?”

Ah… Thanks to speed dial, I don’t even know that on a normal day. Thankfully I remembered it was written on my race wrist band as an emergency contact. They told me to keep running and it would be taken care of. Unlike Orangina-man, it was.

I had my second fastest finish at 26 hours and 32 minutes. That was good for 116th overall out of the 351 that finished. There are typically around 1,000 registered racers.

Why was I faster? I’d run more training miles than ever before and weighed less than in previous years. I think that latter was key.

I also used three pair of shoes. I started with a pair Montrail Rockridge, swapped to my regular road shoes at the Fish Hatchery outbound, then to a second pair of Rockridges at the next aid station. I made the same changes on the return. This worked. It felt great running in some light road shoes.

The other update is I used a Black Diamond Spot headlamp. I was very pleased with its dimming feature which helped the batteries last all race long. I also put cellophane tape on the lens to diffuse the LED spot. I plan on using this again in conjunction with my Surefire flashlight.


Registered for Leadville 100 run: Lucky #7

The heightened  interest ultra racing continues as the Leadville 100 run is nearly full again according to some.

In the “good old days” racers registered by snail mail and could wait until a month before the race. No more. You need to commit (i.e. pay) early.

This will be my 17th Leadville 100 mile race. Ten were on the bike and I’ve run six already. My goal is to finish 10 of each.

Last year I ran more miles before Leadville than ever before and it paid dividends with a faster finish and a quicker recovery. I’m hoping for more of the same this year.

I do have a new training partner Faygo, who’s pictured on the right. We’ve been building up her endurance, and yesterday was her longest run of 7 miles. That along with the Christmas craziness last night means she’s been in bed most of the today.

 


Heidelberg Project wants your old shoes

I’ve got a big garbage bag of old, worn out running shoes. My green side has kept me from dumping them in the waste stream. I was hoping I could find some means of recycling them.

My hopes have been answered.

The Heidelberg Project in Detroit is looking for old shoes. From their Facebook page:

Tyree Guyton is seeking donations of old shoes, in any condition, for an upcoming installation project.  Shoes can be brought to the Heidelberg Project office, 42 Watson, Detroit, MI 48201. General office hours are Mon-Fri 10am-5pm.  Collection continues through mid-to-late March

Whether you bring one shoe or many, you can also write a note about the life of the shoe(s) and what they meant to you.

Some of my shoes participated in the Leadville Trail 100 run, so I’ll make some notes on those.


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