Sunday, October 27, 2013

Des Moines Marathon 2013

I hadn't run this race since 2006. The reason was I had a very bad experience back in 2006 after a experiencing a modified course and lack of training. I had pretty much blown off ever running this race again until a friend asked me to to join his charity running team. Team Red Shamrock was running the event to raise to raise money for post cancer care. So Team Red Shamrock showed up to run the race with bright eyes and bushy tails as my daughter would say.

Myself and Ross took the 100 mile ride from CR to the race where we met Team Red Shamrock founder John. John had our race packets and also gave me a kickass Red Shamrock stocking hat. We then headed to the starting line which was a few blocks away. It was a bit chilly and per usual I had to hit the Porto John prior to race start. This put me behind the power curve and I ended up getting stuck in the back of the almost 10,000 runners at the event. I could see my hoped for pace group, the 3:45 group way up in front of me.

When the gun went off it took me almost 3 minutes to cross the actually starting line. I started off with what I thought would be a steady pace. I had this half ass thought in the back of my head that I might be able to PR the marathon distance at this race. I was coming off a big 17 plus minute PR at a 50K I ran the previous weekend so I wasn't sure if it was possible. So anyway I kept it steady as I weaved my way through the usual crowd and congestion that starts at the beginning of a race. Eventually the half marathon runners split off and us marathoners headed up a long hill that was the beginning of 5 miles of rolling hills. I continued to pass runners and kept my pace steady even up the hills. The miles kept ticking away and before I knew it I was at mile 11 or 12 and the course had flattened out considerably. About that point we ran into and through the Drake University stadium. I tried to catch a picture of myself on the jumbotron but I wasn't able to frame it correctly.

After the stadium I kinda fell into drone mode. We hit a small paved trail section through a park and it was in this section that I finally caught the 3:45 pace group at about mile 17. It had taken me that long to catch them and when I did I was only able to hang with them for a few miles before I started feeling fatigued and slowing down. At least I felt like I was slowing down. The course ran through and circumnavigated a large park and also Greys lake. It was running around Grey's lake in 2006 where the wheels came off. In 2013 however I was feeling relatively fine and just anticipating the finish line. I looked at my watch with 4 miles to go and realized I could practically walk it in and still set a new personal marathon record. 

As I rounded the corner for the last 500 meters I turned  it on and was able to cross the line in 3:45:46 which was a new PR.  Was a good day and my Des Moines demons are now slain.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Running Village 50K 2013

So this race was another local 50k that I had run previously. It was run on some trails in Cedar Falls Iowa about 60 miles from where I live. This was the second running of the race with last year being the inaugural edition. Some changes had been made to the course so it was really like running a totally different race. In the previous year there was a 25K and a 50K option consisting of one or two 15.5 mile loops. This year the options had changed to 10 mile, 20 mile or 50K options. I was running the 50K. I knew the course would be fast and not very technical based on my previous years experience so I was hoping to perform well and possibly set a personal record. My previous fastest 50K had been run in 2011 at the Trail Mix 50K in Rochester Mn.

As seems to be the case on all my runs I worked late the night prior and finally got into bed about 4.5 hours prior to when I needed to leave to make packet pickup. As luck would have it one of our dogs decided to be a shit head and jump on the bed and off the bed while alternately whining and scratching the door. Never did find out what his deal was but he effectively kept me up all night. Thanks Joe. I rolled out of bed with the alarm bleary eyed and none to happy with my chances to PR. I stopped for the traditional Hunny Bun and Gatorade and made my way to Cedar Falls. When I arrived for packet pickup it was still dark and not too many people where in the running store that was sponsoring the race. I gave them my name, picked up my packet and parked my car by the starting line. I made contact with my other friends running the race, Ross S, Ross K and Kelly, and we chatted and milled about until race start. Mostly bitching about how cold it was. Eventually we all lined up behind some cones waiting for the start.

The RD gave some last minute instruction and off we went. By my count there were about 31 individuals running the 50K. We had a controlled start as we were required to follow the RD riding a mountain bike until after about half a mile he pulled off and the race was on. The fast runners took off and I fell into  pace that I hoped would gain me that PR.  The race now consisted of three 10 ish mile laps of mountain bike trails and single track.The first lap would be exploratory. I just kept a constant pace as I went up and down the rolling hills and through the winding single track. Some of the course was one way and some was two way traffic. I saw some good views as well as seeing  the leaders coming back at me at some point. I decided that if I was ahead of the race plan I would use the second lap to take pictures of some of the views. I mean seeing the scenery is a big reason I like running ultramarathons in the first place. I was able to to speak briefly to both Ross and Kelly during this lap, they were both running ahead of me and running hard. Ross looked to being contention for the lead.

As I headed back to the turnaround at the end of the first lap I could see that the 20 mile race had started. I saw those racers heading toward me in the opposite direction. I finished that first lap in 1:42 hours. As I had intended I pulled out my phone and prepared to take some pictures on the second lap. I found that it was necessary to carry the phone in my hand to do this efficiently. I also found out I needed to be careful if I didn't want to take a tumble. However I continued ticking off the miles at a good clip. I passed the 25k mark in 2:30 hours. It really helped my pacing to know where I was on the course due to the previous lap. I once again saw Kelly and Ross on this lap. Kelly looked to be somewhere in the top 5 females and Ross appeared to be running in 2nd place. It was hard to tell, as by now there was a mixture of 50K, 20 Mile and 10 Mile runners on the course. By the time I started the third lap my phone was dead. So I was sans photos and sans music.

The third lap was a copy of the prior two, however I was starting to drop off the pace a bit. I estimated I was slowing down about 30 seconds per mile. It was also during this lap where I actually felt like I was racing. I had been being trailed for about 4 miles by another runner who was making steady progress in closing the gap. I entertained myself by imagining I was holding him off at Western States and we were running in the lead pack. I managed to hold him off for about 6 of the 10 mile loop but eventually he did pass me and  he then finished about 2 minutes ahead of me. Once I hit the last aid station I saw another racer that I thought had outpaced me long ago. Ultras being ultras I had caught him through relentless forward progress. The race was on again as I tried to put as much distance between him and I as I could. I ran hard thinking he was behind me, I kept sneaking looks over my shoulder at the turns to see if I could spot him. I never saw him but I put that down to the foliage and the winding course. Once I emerged from the woodline and hit the last 1.5 miles of running trail to the finish I didn't look back but just focused on the finish. I crossed the line in 5:07:02 a PR by almost 18 minutes!!!! I turned and looked back down the course to see I had been racing a ghost. The runner I thought was behind me was nowhere in sight and actually he finished 5 minutes behind me.

It was a great race and a good time. I PR'ed and won my age group. For the first time I also ran the entire race. This was the first ultra where I had not walked one step. Ross came in 2nd overall and accomplished a PR as well. Kelly PR'ed and also won her age group. I am looking forward to my next race.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A National Disgrace

Dear Elected Representative,

This past weekend 5 members of our armed services gave the last full measure of devotion accomplishing objectives that you, my elected representative, asked them to do. Now the families of these service members are being denied the death benefits owed them because of the government shutdown that has been orchestrated by both parties.

I don't have the inclination to be polite or nice here. You are leadership failures!!! You must immediately fund these benefits and get these families what they were promised. These benefits allow these families to grieve and bury or fallen service members with honor. Two of the fallen were Army Rangers. Part of the Ranger Creed states "never shall I leave a fallen comrade." 

You gentlemen would do well to read the Ranger Creed. You have betrayed these individuals and their families. While you are finger pointing about whose fault the shutdown is we have service members in the field, actively engaged with enemies of our country who are not sure their families will be taken care of. 

I do not require a canned reply to this stating you have researched the problem and are looking into it. I need no reply but to see results. Get this fixed!!!

Mike McElmeel MSG (R)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Broken Toe 4 Mile Trail Run

My sister in law started running recently and I wanted to do a race with her. So we chose this 4 mile trail run in the town she lives Sioux City Iowa.

Myself,my brother, my sister in law and Jay all ran it. In a nutshell it was very hilly and rough. Big ups and downs. Every one finished and I am really proud of Jay and Christina.I had a great time and even managed to win my age group. After there was pizza and wings. It was well worth the 4 hour drive and I hope to do it again next year