March Update

Feel like I’ve somewhat lost my way with regard to training since the Rocky Raccoon 100, so as March comes to a close, it’s probably time to get things back on track. After Rocky I treated myself to almost two weeks of down time, with both the legs and the mind appreciating some much needed time off. The following week I managed to string some enjoyable easy runs together, and rounded off the 67 mile week with a surprisingly fast 20 at 6:38/mile pace.

Another 60 mile week closed out February – highlights of which were a 5k solo time trial in 18:05, and a lung-busting 16 mile effort with good friend Andrew Hoffer. With just over 2 weeks until the Shamrock Marathon, I decided to keep the weekly mileage in the 60s and log one more confidence-boosting weekend long run. The week went well with some treadmill elevation work on the nasty weather days, 5 swift 1000m efforts in my new Newton Running Distance IIIs, and a better-than-expected 20 miler at 6:29/mile pace (again, in the Newton Distance IIIs.)

Newton Distance III

Newton Distance III

Things seemed to be coming together nicely, so as we rolled into race week I decided to add the Saturday Shamrock 8K to the already-planned Shamrock Marathon which would take place on Sunday morning. Looking back, my last short race took place in September 2013, which for someone who enjoys racing as much as I do, is far too long ago. Anyway, aside from some Tuesday afternoon 1000m efforts, I eased back on the mileage and treated myself to a mini-taper week.

Saturday morning soon arrived, and although I felt quite one-paced during the race, I was happy with my 28:55 finish time and 2nd place Masters placing in the typically blustery Virginia Beach conditions.

Heading north on the Boardwalk. Photo courtesy John Price.

Heading north on the Boardwalk. Photo courtesy John Price.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, looking forward to the marathon, and was capped off by an enjoyable Baker’s Crust dinner with friends. Back at the house, however, I didn’t feel quite right, and headed to bed hoping the queasy feeling would not amount to anything. No such luck – I woke early on Sunday with a sore throat and full of aches and pains. The throat I could deal with, but there was no way I’d be able to run 26.2 miles.

Long story short, it’s taken just over a week to feel anywhere close to normal again. I did manage to log a few easy miles on the weekend, but my strength was low and even 4 miles was a real effort. The plan this week is to get back some strength, keep logging the easy miles and kick off April in a more positive light than I was able to close out March. I still hope to run well at next month’s Virginia 24 Hour Run/Walk for Cancer, but the clock is ticking and the odds seem stacked against me.

Opedix KNEE-Tec Compression Tights Product Review

One of the perks of maintaining this blog is the numerous product review requests that hit my inbox. Towards the end of last year the good people at Opedix sent me a pair of their KNEE-Tec™ Tights to test out.

The KNEE-Tec™ Compression Tights are categorized as Kinetic Health Gear, and, according to their website:

Have scientifically designed tensioning systems built within a comfortable, form-fitting base layer to enhance the kinetic functioning of your body. Working like an external muscle, a combination of fabric tensions help direct the body’s internal forces and optimize harmonious joint function in the body’s kinetic chain.

Kinetic health is the phrase used to describe how movement influences joint function. If you’re interested to learn more, here’s a great overview from Biomechanist, Michael Decker, Ph.D., and Dr. Richard Steadman, Orthopedic Knee Surgeon:

In basic terms, by properly supporting the motion of the joints, function is improved while preserving the health of our moving body. Sounds great in theory, but how do the tights perform?

Right out of the box, the compression tights felt like a quality product. On closer inspection, two types of fabric were apparent – the stretchier fabric in the quad, hamstring and calf area, and the thicker, more-supportive fabric that provides the tensioning around the key joints. The tights I received are black in color with contrasting orange stitching, but are also available in a Black/Metal colorway too. The size medium (waist 30″-32″) fitted well, although the leg length was a little shorter than I expected, and the cut of the waistband was unlike other compression tights I own – higher at the back than the front. This felt a little weird initially, but it’s actually a very comfortable design.

Out of the box...

Out of the box…

The tights were only moderately challenging to put on, and once all the panels were lined up to their respective body parts, felt great and allowed plenty of movement. Aside from the patented tensioning design, there are a few other features worth noting – the stretchy, internal drawstring at the waist (which thankfully does not dig in like most other tights I own), the small, offset zip pocket at the rear (large enough for a gel, credit card, key and some cash), the Opedix logo above the right knee and some reflective OPEDIX text at the left ankle area.

Back & Front

Back & Front

I’ve worn the tights for short tempo runs, mid-distance easy runs and longer weekend jaunts on road and at the local state park. Comfort level is high and they definitely provide a great deal of support, especially on the longer efforts when fatigue sets in. They were probably overkill for the shorter, faster efforts, but to be honest weren’t so restrictive that I couldn’t hit my target pace. On chillier mornings the tights provided an excellent barrier against the cold air, but on the flipside, the breathable fabric kept my legs from overheating on the longer runs where I didn’t wrap things up until the warmer mid-day temperatures kicked in.

The tights double up as a great recovery tool too. Post-run they provide a great deal of comfort and support, and I’ve even found myself lounging around watching TV at night wearing them.

Again, product quality is excellent, and the tights are still in excellent condition after many cycles through the washing machine over the winter months. For the record, it’s best to wash the tights in cold water on a gentle cycle, and either hang them to dry or tumble dry low.

What’s not to like about the KNEE-Tec™ Tights? Well, at $225 per pair, I’m not sure I would have picked them out online as a potential purchase, although I have noticed that generally the price of quality compression gear seems to be on the up. Also, the tights can be used for a multitude of activities including skiing and snowboarding, pilates, hiking, yoga and other ball sports/physical training, so I guess it’s easy to get your money’s worth from the product.

From the Opedix website:

Description
Our KNEE-Tec full tights incorporate patented Opedix Technology to promote dynamic alignment—improved mobility and stability—during training, rehab and everyday pursuits. By optimizing joint function, they allow you to do the things you love longer, better and with less pain and fatigue. 19-panel construction and a supple base fabric combine to create a comfortable fit for multiple body-types that improves the way you move for better overall performance.

Product Features
19-panel construction
90% nylon, 10% spandex
Gusseted crotch
Zippered back pocket
Durable internal stretch draw-cord at the waist
Moisture wicking to pull sweat away from the skin’s surface
Breathable fabric to help regulate temperature
Anti-odor fiber technology to reduce odor and preserve freshness

Fit
The knee support area of the tights should fit directly over the patella/knee cap.
There should be minimal bunching at the back of the knee area for maximum comfort and stability.
Color Options

Uses
Keeps you performing at your peak. Ideal for post-surgical rehabilitation, skiing, running, yoga, biking, pilates, tennis, golf, and much more.

Men's Size Chart

Links
Opedix website
KNEE-Tec™ Tights

Ultimate Direction Web Specials

Just wanted to pass on some info for a limited time offer from Ultimate Direction. Customers can save an additional 10% on Ultimate Direction sale items (Web Specials), which boosts savings to over 50% for select items.

Five of the best offers can be viewed below, but be sure to check the Ultimate Direction website for more great deals.

Save over 40% On The Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Plus Handheld Hydration System. Use Coupon Code UDSALE10 At Checkout. Extended To 3/14/14. Coupon Code: UDSALE10

Ultimate Direction FastdrawA must have for the serious runner and fitness enthusiast, the FastDraw Plus will continue to be your staple running piece, with a ID/key pocket and a variety of colors. Staying hydrated while running is easier than ever!

Features:
20 oz /.6L Bottle Included
Small zippered I.D/Key Pocket
All Ultimate Direction products are 100% BPA-Free

Comfort:
Tension-lock hand strap with reflective stripe

 

Save 20% On SJ Ultra Vests At UltimateDirection.com. Free Shipping On ALL Orders. Valid While Supplies Last!

Ultimate Direction SJ VestWorld-renowned ultra-runner Scott Jurek designed the SJ Ultra Vest to be the ultimate pack for any occasion.

Featuring the best volume to weight ratio of any pack ever made, the 7.5 ounce SJ Ultra Vest can carry a half-day of gels or bars in the easily accessible front pockets, along with a unique expandable or compressible main compartment utilizing Cuben-Fiber, for a total capacity of an amazing 9.2 liters.

Options to carry trekking poles and an ice axe complete the package.

 

Features (Front):
Smart phone compatible pouches (2)
Gel or bar pouches (4)
Electrolyte or valuables pocket (2)
Emergency whistle

Features (Back):
Cuben Fiber bellows for large or small loads
Two sizes main compartments
Trekking pole (2) and Ice Axe loop (1)
Accommodates a 70 oz. reservoir

 

Save 32% On The Grind 12 Hydration Pack By Ultimate Direction. Use Coupon Code UDSALE10 At Checkout. Extended To 3/14/14. Coupon Code: UDSALE10

Ultimate Direction Grind 12Loaded with features such as pump and tool pockets, organization for spare tubes and adequate room for an extra layer, this MTB pack is built for the trail.

Sleek in design, this pack enables a full range of motion and a molded back panel offers outstanding stability and ventilation – you’ll be charging the trails without even realizing you’ve got a pack on your back.

Features:
96 oz / 2.8L reservoir included
3D AirMesh backpanel with molded framesheet for superior comfort and stability
3D AirMesh backpanel and shoulder straps for optimal ventilation
Drain hole

Storage:
Quick access storage pockets on waistbelt
Gel pockets on shoulder straps
Internal security pocket tool organizer
Map Sleeve

 

Get The Access Belt Hydration System From Ultimate Direction. Was $34.95 Now $18. Use Coupon Code UDSALE10 At Checkout. Extended To 3/14/14. Coupon Code: UDSALE10

Ultimate Direction AccessThe Access has been updated for a more ergonomic shape for better comfort and fit. A redesigned, canted bottle pocket keeps a snug fit on the bottle to keep it safe and secure.

Features:
One 20 oz / .6L bottle included
Comfort stability belt with dual-adjust quick-release buckles
Strap secure webbing control
Reflective piping
All Ultimate Direction products are 100% BPA-Free

Storage:
Contoured zippered storage pocket with key hook

 

Take An Additional 10% Off The Sale Price On Access Gel Hydration Belts At UltimateDirection.com. Use Coupon Code UDSALE10 At Checkout. Extended To 3/14/14. Coupon Code: UDSALE10

Access GelFlashing Heartbreak Hill in the Boston Marathon is not all mental…help prepare for the physical challenge with the Access Gel. It provides increased hydration with a 26-ounce bottle and a holster to hold a 4-ounce gel flask (included).

Features:
One 26 oz / .6L bottle & One 4oz / 188ML gel flask included
Comfort stability belt with dual-adjust quick-release buckles
Strap secure webbing control
Piggy back gel pocket secures gel flask and provides easy access
Reflective piping
All Ultimate Direction products are 100% BPA-Free

Storage:
Contoured zippered storage pocket with key hook
Storage Capacity: 32 in3 / .5L

Coupon Code: UDSALE10
End Date: February 28, 2014 Extended To 3/14/14

Ultimate Direction Jenny Collection

Update Your Run Bulldog Run RSS Feed

RSSQuick post to let everyone know I’ve recently transitioned the Run Bulldog Run RSS Feed from Feedburner to FeedPress. I’ve used Feedburner for many years, but with Google no longer developing or actively supporting the service, I figured it was time for a change.

Hopefully, existing subscribers won’t notice much of a difference and the transition will be pretty seamless. Feel free to let me know if you notice anything odd though.

If you haven’t subscribed to my blog updates before, you can do so by following the feed below, or copy/paste the link into your preferred feed reader:

http://www.runbulldogrun.com/feed

Alternatively, you can subscribe to email updates by clicking on the following link:

Subscribe via Email

Rocky II – 2014 Rocky Raccoon 100 Race Recap

I’m never really sure how these race recaps are going to turn out, but here goes anyway. It’s been a few days since I returned home from Texas and the 2014 Rocky Raccoon 100. Work has been busy, social media through the roof, but finally things are almost back to normal. Last year, in my first 100, I set myself the rather ambitious goal of beating the age group record for 46 year olds which stood at 16:47:47. I struggled a fair bit in the closing miles, but still managed to finish a very rewarding 3rd overall in 16:16:55. For 2014 I needed a new goal, and what better time to aim for than the age group record for 47 year olds which stood at 15:59:35. Of course, knocking 18 minutes off last year’s finish time wouldn’t be easy, but I’m the type of runner that needs something to shoot for.

December training went well, including a new 50K PR at the Seashore Nature Trail and a relatively relaxing recovery week over Christmas to ensure I was ready to ramp up the miles and intensity in January. I logged almost 400 miles in the first month of 2014, including lots of doubles and two or three 30+ mile training runs, and before I knew it, it was time to taper.

Goals and expectations:
As stated above, my main goal was to break the 15:59:35 record for 47 year olds. However, training had gone so well that I’d started to dream about something a little bit special. The 2014 Rocky Raccoon 100 had been chosen as the venue for the USA 100mi Trail Championships, meaning that a field of quality Ultra Runners would be extremely likely. Also, Rocky had been included in the 2014 Montrail Ultra Cup – a prestigious Ultra Running race series that offers an automatic entry into Western States to the top three male & female overall finishers of each race. Knowing so many quality runners would be at Rocky, I knew chances of a podium finish like last year would be slim to nothing, but in all honesty, it didn’t stop me fantasizing on training runs about earning a coveted slot. Anything can happen in a 100, right?

The week leading up to the race saw a couple of online race previews published – one on iRunFar.com and the other on EnduranceBuzz.com. I was really touched to get a mention in the latter, but the previews mainly served as a reminder of the extremely talented field that would be lining up. To quote pre-race favorite Ian Sharman – “The men’s field had a lot of top runners who could run sub 14 hrs on paper.”

Pre-Race:
Travel to Texas went without a hitch, despite potential flight cancellations due to the snowy conditions at Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Packet pickup was quick and easy, and it was cool to see many of the “elites” at the pre-race brief on Friday afternoon. Dinner was enjoyable with wife/supercrew Ally and good friend Andy O’Brien who would also be toeing the line the following morning. Back at the hotel, last minute gear was laid out and it was soon time for bed. Sleep came quickly and easily.

Race Day:
Race morning was warm and humid, even at 4am. We drove to Huntsville State Park, snagged a prime parking spot and that was that – nothing else to do except count down the minutes to the start, and relax. After one last bathroom visit and carrying gear/supplies to the PRS FIT tent, it was time to take my place on the start line behind many of the elite runners I only ever get to read about – Ian Sharman, Pam Smith, Michele Yates to name just a few. It was all quite surreal and definitely a very special moment. There was just time to wish Facebook friend Jeff Miller good luck and remind him of his stellar training cycle, before Race Director Joe Prusaitis counted down the seconds to start the race. We were finally off and running with 5 x 20 mile loops ahead of us.

Almost time to start running...

Almost time to start running… Photo courtesy Ally Speirs

Loop 1:
My plan was to run 9:00 minute mile pace for the opening loops and basically see what happened later on in the race when fatigue hits and nutrition/hydration becomes more of an issue. In 2013 I probably definitely ran the opening 40 miles too fast (2:45 and 2:50), and paid the price in the remaining 3 x 20 mile loops – not just physically, but from a nutrition standpoint too. Right from the gun I settled in to goal pace and watched what seemed like 50 runners all take off ahead of me. “Run your own race, Steve” I told myself. “Run your own race.” Actually it was rather nice running pretty much alone. Despite the early morning darkness I was able to see the trail really well, and the many roots and twists and turns were no problem at all. The 60 degree temperature felt great, and as the miles rolled by I was able to happily sip on Sustained Energy and water.

The first 5 miles passed quickly. My pace was a little slow (9:19/mile), but it was early days and I’d probably been extra cautious on the rooty sections to make sure I didn’t fall. Nothing to worry about this early in the race. I arrived at the Damnation aid station in good spirits where one of the volunteers refilled my 10oz water bottle whilst I consumed a Blueberry-Pomegranate Island Boost. I set off for the first of five Damnation loops and looked forward to returning to the aid station about an hour later. It was soon light enough that I no longer needed the headlamp, which I promptly removed and wrapped around my wrist. The temperature felt great, but with the high humidity, I was already sweating profusely. Thankfully, I’d remembered my supply of Salt Stick capsules and had set my Garmin to beep every 45 minutes as a reminder to take one. I had a feeling this would be more important as the day rolled on.

Back at Damnation I topped up the water bottle and took another Island Boost. One of the volunteers remarked how fast I’d consumed “the gel”. I tried to explain it was actually liquid and not a gel, but as you can imagine I was in rather a hurry to get going. I thanked everyone for their help and set off for the next leg of the loop. I breezed through the Park Road aid station several miles later, and looked forward to the closing miles of the loop where I’d get to see the race leaders making their way out on Loop 2. Peter Hogg and Ian Sharman were the first two guys I saw, with a steady stream of racers all tearing it up behind – Ryan Ghelfi, John Cash, Neal Gorman, Jason Lantz, Michele Yates, Joshua Finger, Gary Gellin, Pam Smith, Nicole Studer… Wow. In all the excitement I lost count of how many were ahead of me, but guessed I was in about 25th position as I cruised in to the start/finish area for my first pitstop – slightly faster than planned (8:47/mile pace), but feeling great.

Ally was patiently waiting with camera in hand, but more importantly a bottle of Perpetuem, bottle of water, SaltStick capsules and Island Boost. After a quick supplies exchange, I was off and running.

First loop – 2:48:39. 26th Overall. 23rd Male.

Loop 2:
Loop 2 was more of the same, except this time I stopped at the Nature Trail aid station to grab water. I already felt the humidity was sapping my strength, and knew staying on top of hydration could be key later on in the race. I also slowed things down on this loop and was pleased with my 5 mile splits of 45:05, 44:47, 44:51, 45:27 – much more consistent. I also enjoyed some brief conversation with former Houston Dynamo defender, Wade Barrett. Wade remembered me from the Seashore Nature Trail 50K in Virginia Beach a few years ago, and I recognised his name as the winner of last year’s Rocky Raccoon 50 in an impressive 6 hours 57 minutes. We traded places several times during the loop; Wade was running faster, whereas I was slightly quicker through the aid stations. Cool to see how different race strategies play out.

As the miles rolled on I took the opportunity to pass several runners at various points on the course, and coupled with several of the front runners dropping surprisingly early, by the time I finished the loop I’d moved up an astonishing 11 places. Thanks to Ally I didn’t need to hang around the start/finish area very long either (always a prime spot to waste valuable time), and with a swiftly replenished Ultimate Direction vest, I was soon ready to run again.

Update: I just remembered my left glute had tightened up a bit during this loop, so, rightly or wrongly, took a couple of Tylenol capsules before setting off.

Second loop – 2:51:26. 15th Overall. 14th Male.

Loop 3:
I’m not sure why, but I struggled early on in the third loop. My average pace for the first 5 miles was a disappointing 10:16/mile and I felt like I was dragging. I hadn’t wavered from my nutrition/hydration strategy, so felt a bit despondent that things appeared to be going south. At Damnation I chugged down another Island Boost, downed a couple of cups of coke and asked one of the volunteers to dump icy water over my head. I also stuffed ice down the back of shirt and set off feeling nicely refreshed for the monotonous Damnation loop. Things slowly improved and a mile or so later I caught eventual Women’s winner Nicole Studer and super-talented male Ultra Runner, Gary Gellin. Gary informed me I was 10th place Male, and at that point Nicole was 2nd place Female. I asked Nicole if she was trying to chase down Michele Yates, and she replied that she was just running her own race and having fun. I enjoyed the chatter with Nicole but felt the pace was a bit quick for me at that stage of the race. Truth be told, I was struggling to keep up and just looking forward to getting back to Damnation. I wished her well and watched her run off into the distance.

Photo courtesy Kim Wrinkle

Keep on running… Photo courtesy Kim Wrinkle

Despite feeling fairly flat I was still maintaining good pace, and pleased that my 5 mile splits were levelling out again – 49:25, 47:41, 47:42. After more ice and iced water at Damnation, I set off for Park Road on my way to closing out the third loop. I know I passed a couple more runners in the closing miles, but there must have been a few more drops up front, as when I approached the start/finish area, Kim Wrinkle, who was reporting for iRunFar.com, announced I was 6th place Male. “What? Really?” I replied. “I can’t be…”

I finished off the loop with a renewed energy, but probably confused Ally a bit with my desperate request for Tailwind Nutrition instead of Perpetuem, and my iPod Shuffle. After a brief scramble and stowing enough fuel to keep me going for another 20 miles, I set off wondering how far ahead the guys were.

Third loop – 3:04:58. 7th Overall. 6th Male.

Loop 4:
Mile 60 is where pacers are allowed if you’re not competing in the USA Trail Championships. This year I decided to risk going it alone and use music for company instead. Typically, I NEVER race with music, but thought some old school 80s songs and some more recent dance tunes might ease the pain of the last 40 miles. The volume was low enough that I was aware of my surroundings, but loud enough so I could enjoy the music. It worked well. Most of this loop is fairly fuzzy, but I do remember lots of ice down the back of my shirt and lots of water-pouring over my head to keep me cool. Again, nutrition, hydration and electrolytes seemed to be working their magic and I was able to keep moving fairly consistently. The first half of the loop I ran strongly at 9:30/mile pace, but struggled a bit on the way back with my second slowest 5 mile split of the whole race – 55:53.

One sad moment was spotting Michele Yates walking up towards the Damnation aid station (Mile 72?). Michele had set off at a blazing pace in the hope of beating the existing female course record of 14:57:18. As a jogged by up the hill I asked if she needed anything, but she said she was okay so I headed on for my now familiar ice treatment. This time I rubbed ice on my legs, not because I was cramping, but because it felt so good. I chugged down some more coke, swallowed another Island Boost and walked briskly out of the aid station.

Somewhere on this loop I passed the 17 year old Florida runner, Ford Smith (I think he was taking a break at Damnation on the way out), and last year’s Vermont 100 winner, Jason Lantz, but still wasn’t 100% sure of my position. I hoped that Kim Wrinkle (iRunFar) was still in place near the end of the loop and would be able to give me an update. He was (at least I *think* it was Kim), and he confirmed that I’d moved up to 4th place overall. Oh my word!

I’ve already mentioned Western States slots being awarded to the top three male and female runners. Well, going into the race I knew Ian Sharman (currently holding firm in 2nd place) already had a Western States entry based on his 2013 Top Ten finish. Montrail Ultra Trail rules state:

“The top three male and female winners of each event, 50 Miles and over, receive an automatic entry invitation to Western States. If either the first, second, or third place finisher is already entered in Western States, then the fourth place finisher will receive the automatic entry invitation. The automatic entry will not slide down further than fourth place.”

Knowing pretty much what this meant, I said to myself, “Okay, Steve. You’re in 4th place. You HAVE to stay strong, and you can’t allow anyone to pass you.” I jogged in to the start/finish area feeling very tired. As I switched out my fuel bottles and grabbed more Island Boost and my Petzl Nao headlamp, I said to Ally “My legs are sore. This could be a long loop. Go and take a nap if you need to. Also, I’m not sure, but think I’m in 4th!” Let me tell you, having 20 miles still left to run is not the ideal time to get emotional, so as I felt myself welling up a bit, I turned around and headed out for the final loop.

Fourth loop – 3:10:00. 4th Overall. 4th Male.

Loop 5:
As I set off for the final loop, I hoped to catch sight of the 5th place guy on the out and back. I was definitely concerned about Jason Lantz and Joshua Finger being close behind, but had no idea former Grand Slam of Ultrarunning™ record holder Neal Gorman was mounting a very strong comeback after walking much of Loop 2. Apparently, Neal started the loop 22 minutes behind, but the guy I saw first was Jason Lantz just a couple of minutes along the trail. I figured he might take a minute or two at the aid station, but knew he’d be chasing hard after he’d refueled. In all honesty, the way I was feeling, I expected to be caught just a few miles down the trail.

Frustratingly, my pace had slowed into the 10:00/mile and above range. Tailwind was hitting the spot, but the humidity was sucking the life out of me. At Nature Trail I stuffed ice down my shirt, doused myself with water and rubbed ice on my legs. Coke was the aid station fuel of choice, and just like at last year’s 24 The Hard Way, it really hit the spot. Amazingly, I made it to Damnation still in 4th slot, where I performed the ice/water ritual as quickly as possible before reluctantly setting off on the final Damnation loop. This is definitely the toughest section of the course and I really looked forward to getting back to Damnation about six miles later.

Just before the final Damnation aid station last year, I was overtaken by the eventual 2nd place guy, Nathan Leehman. Nathan blew by me like I was standing still, and I was convinced the same thing was going to happen this year. However, it didn’t happen, and I jogged up the hill to the aid station to be met by the EnduranceBuzz guy with his trusty camera – capturing my surprisingly cheery water bottle top up on film. He asked how I was doing, and all I could mutter was the mantra I’d been repeating to myself for miles. “I got to hold on. I got to hold on.” [Hope my English Language teacher isn't reading this...]

Also captured on film is me scanning the aid station table for the miracle fuel that will transport me painlessly to the finish line. I was hoping for an IPA or at least some kind of beer, but alas, there was none. [Foolishly], I settled instead for a small cup of Red Bull, which I gulped down before jogging out of the aid station. 5 steps away from the tent, I was forced to stop and threw up. 10 more steps and more vomiting. “No. I don’t need this right now.” A lady asked if I was okay. I stammered something in reply and set off again, stopping several more times to throw up the last of the Red Bull/Coke/Island Boost cocktail. Finally I got myself together, wondered if I’d been overtaken and started running again.

I managed to pick up the pace just a little bit on the way to Park Road. Both little toes felt battered and blistered but there was no point being concerned about that now. I’d considered a shoe change at Damnation, but knew there was no time to spare and it was just a question of keep on running to the finish line. I picked up the pace again on the never-ending jeep road section of the course, but couldn’t stop myself from looking behind for the headlamp of whoever was chasing me down. There were plenty of lights, but of course I had no idea if they were runners on their 3rd or 4th loop, or the all important final 20 miles.

I made it to Park Road without being passed and just 4ish miles to go. I downed more Coke as quickly as possible and did the old ice-down-the-shirt trick. The aid station lady asked what loop I was on, and she seemed surprised when I replied “Ugh, the last one.” She wished me well, and I set off as fast as my legs would carry me.

By this time I’d switched off the music. If anyone was going to pass, I needed to hear him coming. I thought about slowing down the pace so that if I was indeed overtaken, I could speed up and respond to the move. Probably not a wise move with the state my legs were in, so I just kept running as quickly as possible. The section by the lake went quickly and with a quick glance at the Garmin I knew there was just over a mile left to run. I allowed myself to think back to last year’s Old Dominion 100 where good friend Olivier Leblond was beaten out into 3rd place in the closing meters of the race – a 100 mile race with 2nd and 3rd place being separated by just 12 seconds. Please don’t let that happen to me. I forced my legs to move faster and picked up the pace again.

Finally I reached the path crossing and the final left turn towards the finish line. I literally sprinted down the path and knew that 4th place was mine. I crossed the line with a “Yes! Yes! Yes!” – so much relief, so much excitement. The 4th place trophy and Sub-24 Hour buckle were handed to me as Ally came over to congratulate me, and Kim Wrinkle came over to take a photo for his race report. I kept shaking my head in disbelief and to be honest am still having a hard time processing my thoughts.

Finish line pic captured by Brent Neiter

Sprint finish.. Pic captured by Brent Neiter

Fifth loop – 3:31:00. 4th Overall. 4th Male. Finish time – 15:26:25

Summary:
I managed to hold off Neal by just 5 minutes, with the two lead females finishing about 11 and 14 minutes later, followed closely by Joshua and Jason. My Western States slot was confirmed, and a highlight of the day was when Ian Sharman came over to chat as I attempted to get myself together in a comfy aid station chair. In my delirious post-race state, I’m not sure I made any sense, but it was cool to chat to Ian all the same. What a great guy!

Sub-24HR Buckle & Cool 4th Place Overall Awards

Sub-24HR Buckle & Cool 4th Place Overall Award. Photo courtesy Kim Wrinkle

Gear/Fuel:

So good to sit down. Getting up not so easy though.

So good to sit down. Getting up not so easy though. Photo courtesy Ally Speirs

To close, I’ll repeat what I posted on Facebook just the day before the race. There are many people to acknowledge, but a special shout out to Ally for supporting me 100% in my crazy endeavors and crewing like a pro. Thanks also to everyone who gave up some of their precious weekend to track me, watch online, and post comments/words of encouragement. It really means a lot to know that so many people were following, and it definitely helped me keep running when the going got tough.

Finally, massive thanks to Joe & Joyce Prusaitis and the whole Rocky Raccoon support team for putting on an outstanding event. Rocky III, anyone?