Thursday, December 11, 2014

2014 in Review and 2015 Thoughts

In March I did the GTR Northern Kettle 50K again. This is always a fun event and a great way to start the season. It's also really great to see my fellow Greenbush Trail Runners. Finished in 6:24.


In June I did the Kettle 100K. This was rough and I talked about it already but it was overall a good experience and prepped me for finishing a 100K a couple months later. DNF'd at mile 55 after 14:58.

In July I did the Dances with Dirt Devil's Lake 50M. I felt really strong all day and ran hard to the end. This course offers some pretty challenging climbs so I was really happy to finish in 10:36. It was a great comeback after the Kettle 100K DNF.


In August I did the Northern Kettle 100K. This wasn't an actual race but just Tony and I out there all night. We started in the early evening on Monday and finished mid-morning Tuesday in 14:16. Those miles after 50 were difficult but I felt I could still keep going as long as I kept eating. Which made me think I could do a 100 miler someday. Someday.


In September I did a 100 Mile Week Challenge. Again not an actual event, just me trying to challenge myself since I had never run 100 miles in a single week before. It was a neat experience seeing what my body could do even when really tired. But while I was very tired the most challenging aspect was finding the time to get all the runs in. Total time for the week was 17:15.

In September I did the "Southern Kettle Marathons." Again not an actual event. (In 2014 half of my big runs were not actual events but instead just me or me and another guy challenging ourselves. I think I'll continue doing these challenges in 2015 because they are really fun and much easier to fit into my schedule.) So this was just Jeff and I running and camping in the Southern Kettles. We setup camp at Ottawa Lake then drove down the trail and ran a marathon Saturday night back to camp, slept, then ran a second marathon back to the car early Sunday morning. The total time was 10:55. This was a great experience but we were really doubting ourselves when we woke up tired and sore Sunday morning. At the time we really wished we had not parked the car 25 miles away! Looking back on it now I'm glad we did it the way we did because it was a great accomplishment pushing myself on tired legs all morning to get back to the car. I did have to leave Jeff behind in town though because his stomach went bad. After a short nap and some chocolate milk from a gas station he was good to go though and I found him a few hours later running along the side of the road. Great memories.

In October I did the Glacial Trail 50M. This was my 3rd GT50. Although my "training" this season wasn't exactly specific or to any particular plan - I basically just put in the miles -  I still hoped that I would finish quicker than last year (10:07) and really thought I could break 10 hours. That didn't happen, I finished in 10:15. But I had a good day. I know these trails so well they don't really inspire me a whole lot anymore so I think that was a big part of the problem. If you don't have the inspiration to push through the pain it's really easy just to kind of take it easy and have a "I'll finish when I finish" attitude.

For 2015, I'm sure I'll do the GTR NK50K in March, then the Ice Age 50 in May if I can get in. Then in June Jeff and I talked about doing a 50 miler we're going to call the "East to West Bender" starting on the Old Plank Road bike trail in Sheboygan and ending at the Highway H IAT trailhead near West Bend. I was also thinking of doing back to back 50 milers on Saturday and Sunday some weekend. Don't know if I'll try that in July or later. And I'm always pondering when to do a 100 miler but that might just wait another year. I'm sure I'll do Glacial Trail 50 again too. I look forward to the new experiences and challenges!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Kettle 100k


Did not finish this one. Pretty disappointing. Started out pretty good and was feeling strong through the turnaround at mile 31 (50k) but then I really slowed down after that, feeling worse and worse with every mile, not being able to eat anymore and just not wanting to be out there anymore. So I dropped at mile 55 where Kelly and Leah had come to meet up with Jeff and I. Had we felt better they were going to pace us to the finish but we were done.

Jeff had been feeling bad most of the day. Here's a picture of him at mile 31:

How he made it another 24 miles after that I do not know. The guy is TOUGH.

What went wrong? I think it was a combination of a few things. Some little things like that I was just having a bad day, my stomach wasn't quite right, the sun took a toll. But mainly I think I was just unprepared for how tough a 100k is. This was my first and so I had to make some assumptions. One of those was that it would not be much tougher than a 50 miler but it really is - much tougher. So that incorrect assumption resulted in me not taking my training before the race seriously enough and also in not being prepared mentally to suffer for so many miles.

I enjoy running long distances because of the highs and the lows, which get higher and lower the longer you go. The highs are great for obvious reasons. The lows are terrible while you are struggling through them but the reward for having made it to the other side is greater than the highest high.

So Kettle was overall a bad experience because I was unable to make it through that really bad low point. But, it's just running. And there's always the next one. I have Dances With Dirt Devil's Lake this weekend. Prior to Kettle I had signed up for just the 50k but after DNFing at Kettle I feel I have something to prove so I moved up to the 50 mile. It will be hot and the course will be difficult but I'm going to finish - and the reward for finishing will make all the suffering well worth it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Glacial Trail 50

The Glacial Trail 50 is a 50 mile (50K option also) trail ultramarathon race on the Ice Age Trail in the Northern Kettle Moraine Forest segment. This trail is about 20 minutes away from my house and where I do most of my training. The start of the race is about 25 minutes away in Greenbush. It's a very low-key and well run event. My first 50 mile race was this event last year. Jeff would not be joining me this year but he did volunteer at the Mauthe Lake Aid Station so I saw him twice there.

The race started at 6am. I got to the start about 20 minutes beforehand. I picked up my bib and sweatshirt (which is a nice change from the typical tech shirt) and then went back to sit in the car for a bit to preserve my energy before the race began. The weather for the day was forecast to be perfect and it was: mostly sunny and 40-60 degrees.

The race starts on the road for about a half mile as you make your way from the Greenbush fire station to a connector trail (Old Wade House trail) that takes you to the rolling hills and rocky and rooty terrain of the Ice Age Trail. The falling leaves this time of year make the rocks and roots even more challenging. But I'm used to it my now and didn't fall at all. I did hit my big toe on a rock towards the end of the run that hurt quite a bit though (and still hurts).

I started out at a nice and easy pace. I talked to a guy for several miles that was really interesting. He is a crew medic for elite-level runners that do big-name events like Western States, Bad Water, and HURT. While he's never had the opportunity to run those amazing events himself, he has crewed for runners that did do them which is the next best thing. He does run some tough races himself, including Sawtooth, which Jeff and I were thinking about doing next year. But after talking to him about it I think we might wait a couple years to try that one.

After awhile I was alone again so I turned on the iPod and just did my thing. As for eating and drinking I was wearing a belt with two bottles (totaling 1.2 liters of water), 3 gels, and 4 packs of chomps. After struggling at the Marquette Tral 50 with a single water bottle I decided that 2 bottles (or the cambelback) were necessary for races that don't have an Aid Station every 4 miles (like Ice Age Trail 50 does). I was right about the 2 bottles. During the last 25 miles I had to refill them at every AS.

I started with the gels after about an hour and a half of running. I don't like to eat or drink too early because it can give me an upset stomach. But after a couple hours my stomach settles in and gets used to the running and generally holds up pretty well for the rest of the run. I ate the 3 gels over the next couple of hours and then switched to the chomps. 1 chomp equates to about 1/4 of a gel so they are good for continuous energy when you take them every 10-15 minutes or as needed. I didn't eat anything at the Aid Stations until the very last one and that was just a couple bites of a PB&J sandwich. I did drink 2 cups of Coke at each AS after mile 20. I also switched from filling the water bottles with water to HEED after about mile 30. Looking back on the day I realize I should have eaten something plain or salty from the AS earlier on (around mile 25) because I got really sick of the sweet chomps. I also should have eaten some protein in the later stages of the race.

My goal for this race was to finish in about 10 hours which would require a 12:00 average pace. My plan was to take it easy for the first 25 miles but I still ended up pushing a little in the first half. I realized that a 13:00 average pace for the first 25 miles would require me to run 11:00 miles for the last 25 miles and that was asking a lot. So I tried to run "comfortably hard" - not pushing too much but just enough to get me a bit under a 12:00 average pace at the halfway point.

As a result the last 15 miles were really tough. I had passed about 5 people after the turnaround at mile 25 but one of them caught up with me and passed me during this rough stretch. But for the most part I was able to keep going hard despite the pain and in the end met my goal of finishing in about 10 hours. My eating was pretty good (stomach was great overall) but for the last 7 miles I could not eat anymore Chomps. I relied on HEED to get me to the finish which was not quite enough. I also took the iPod off shuffle and put on Hillsong United's latest album Zion which really improved my mental state. For me, listening to music while running is either about distracting me when it gets boring or improving my mental state when negativity starts to creep in. I rarely start out a run listening to music because I love the stillness and sounds of the trail but after I've been out there several hours it can really help me complete the goal.

A few miles from the finish a guy passed me but I stuck with him and ended up passing him again. He looked really strong when he passed me so I told him so and he said "it comes and goes" which was both true and encouraging as it reminded me that the low point I was enduring at that moment wouldn't last much longer. As I started to feel better and ran by him by I told him I was sure he'd catch me again to encourage him and then I ran hard to ensure that didn't happen. It didn't happen. I never looked back so I had no idea where he was but I pretended he was hot on my heels. That little mind game worked well to get me to the finish. I finished in 10:07, good enough for 25th out of 68 starters / 58 finishers.

At the finish Kelly was there with Maddy. Kathy was also there (she had driven Kelly's car so Kelly could drive me home in my car). It was so awesome to see them. When the going gets tough, knowing they are waiting for me at the finish really keeps be moving. Fellow Greenbush Trail Runner Nic was there as well. He had finished his race (the 50K) several hours before, taking 3rd place in a thrilling come from behind last moment win. Can't wait to read his report. Tony (also a GTR) finished the 50K in a very good time as well and he did it barefoot!

The race went well and I was happy with the time. It's great to challenge yourself and then achieve your goal. That's half of the reason I do this. The other reason is to enjoy time out on the trail with Jeff. If there's one thing that was missing from the day it was him not being able to be out there but I look forward to our next adventure together. We're probably going to do a 100 miler next year. Most likely Kettle. It will be incredible I'm sure.

Kelly had taped notes with words of encouragement and Scripture to my gels and chomps. These really lifted my spirits.

Approaching the finish.

Done. That clock was for the 50K which started an hour later.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ice Age Trail Northern Kettle Moraine Forest Out & Back Attempt

The idea of doing an out and back run on the Ice Age Trail through the Northern Kettle Moraine Forest was born about 6 months ago when Jeff mentioned it while we were out there. At the time that added up to about 63 miles (31.5 X 2). Since we planned to run the Marquette 50 in August and I was doing the Glacial Trail 50 in October we decided to squeeze this adventure in mid-September. In late August an additional 9 miles (4.5 X 2) was connected to the southern part of the IAT Northern Kettle segment which pushed our total mileage up to 72. For both of us our previous longest distance was 50 miles so we knew we were going to be challenged but just planned to take it easy with the only goal being to cover the distance before it got dark.

The initial plan was to simply run an out and back route from the Hwy H trailhead in the south to the Hwy P trailhead in the north then turn around and run back to Hwy H ("H2P2H"). After the new segment was connected in the south we modified the plan a bit to head south first for an out and back on the newly extended part of the trail for a total of 9 miles and then come back to do the rest for another 63 miles. We would have a car parked with supplies at Butler Lake 17 miles from the Hwy H trailhead about halfway to and from the turnaround point at Hwy P.

On Saturday, September 14, we got to the Hwy H trailhead at 4:00am. The run started really, really well. The weather was perfect - cool and clear. The stars were beautiful and bright in the clear early morning sky. There were no bugs! In fact, we didn't have to deal with mosquitoes or deer flies the entire day. Their season must finally be over. Since we were going to be running 72 miles we took it real slow from the beginning. We hiked the uphills, jogged the flats, and ran the downhills. Usually I need to eat something before the 2 hour mark but our pace was so easy that I didn't take a gel until after 2 hours. 3 gels total gave me enough energy for another 2.5 hours which is when I switched to eating a chomp energy chew every 15 minutes. I couldn't believe it when I realized we’d been going 5 hours as my legs were really fresh and Jeff was feeling good too.

The turnaround point on the new segment south of Sunburst Ski Area

Jeff cruising

Happy to be out there

Sun coming up

Jeff obstructing the lookout spot near New Fane
Jeff cruising
This steep hill had a river flowing down it during the Glacial Trail 50 last year - thankfully not today
We made it 25 miles to Butler Lake at 10AM, 6 hours into the trek. This is where we had the car parked with supplies: change of socks/shoes/clothes, food, soda, water, bug spray, first aid, stuff like that. I still felt pretty good but definitely needed a boost from a bit of food and some Coke. I changed my socks which were wet from the dewy grass, ate a banana, drank some Coke and was ready to go. We spent a good 15 minutes at this first pit stop, not wanting to push too hard since we had a long day ahead of us. But then it was back to the trail and on to the turnaround at the Hwy P trailhead.

The car at Butler Lake

The stairs at Butler Lake
I started feeling a little more tired and cranky after another 5 miles but I ate a cookie at mile 32 and that got me going again. The chomp every 15 minutes was giving me enough energy to keep moving but just barely and they were starting to taste bad so having something different like a cookie or banana gave me a nice jolt to both my energy and my mental state.

At the halfway point (mile 36) we were on pace for an 18 hour finish which was a little disappointing because it meant we would have to keep pushing with less hiking and more hard running and shorter pit stops. An 18 hour finish meant we’d be done at 10PM and we really didn't want to be out there later than that since we had to be up for Church the next morning. I ate a half a banana at mile 38 to give myself a little more pep as we pushed towards the Hwy P trailhead at mile 40. I struggled getting to that point and drank much of the Coke I had brought along from Butler Lake in the last quarter of a mile as I walked. Once we got to the turnaround I drank what was left of my Coke, ate half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, took a picture and, well, turned around.

Hwy P turnaround
Now 15 miles back to Butler Lake with just water and chomps. This was not going to be fun at all! I was really getting sick of the chomps and my water was dwindling with no chance for a refill until mile 47. So this was a pretty dark spot.

But then I had an idea. Kelly had been planning to meet us at Butler Lake where the car was but had really wanted to meet us somewhere that we didn't have supplies so she would be more helpful. So I called her and asked her if she could meet us at the Greenbush Group Camp at mile 47 with Mountain Dew (Jeff’s favorite and it sounded pretty good to me as well) and water. I was so much more hopeful now. We ran hard pushing our fastest pace of the day on the most technical part of the trail and got to the meeting spot just seconds before Kelly.

The Mountain Dew tasted great and though my legs were really sore at this point they now had some energy back. Jeff didn't look too good as he lay down to drink his. I thought maybe we pushed too hard to meet up with Kelly. He had seemed strong before this point but now not so much. Was our day about to end prematurely? I asked him if he was feeling well enough to keep going and he said yes. So Kelly snapped a picture of us and Jeff got a picture of me with Kelly and the kids. I thanked her and said goodbye and we continued on.

They came bearing Mountain Dew
Jeff walked on ahead to let the Mountain Dew settle while I said goodbye to Kelly and the kids. I thought that was a good idea and he seemed to be moving ok so I was pretty hopeful. I walked fast (I also had to let my stomach settle) to catch up with Jeff and as I came around the corner I saw him laying down on the trail struggling with nausea. He said he could walk a bit but if he pushed it too hard and tried to run he felt sick. Not good. This was like the end of the Marquette 50. If he couldn’t get over this we’d be done for the day. He tried to get over it. He kept telling me to go on ahead, that he’d walk it off and then run and catch up but he never did. I’d go on ahead but then get worried about him and either stop and wait or turn around and look for him. I’d usually find him puking.

Jeff’s sister Leah was going to meet us at Mauthe Lake to run the last 10 miles with us. After Jeff’s stomach issues started he called her and told her to meet us at Butler Lake instead. The revised plan was to run 7 more from Butler Lake and quit so we could at least call it a 100K. Kelly was going to join us for this as well. But after Jeff continued to get worse and worse he eventually just had Leah pick us up shortly after Parnell Tower on Hwy U. Our day was done. I wasn’t disappointed at all at the time. After running 52 miles I was feeling pretty crappy myself. My stomach was fine but I was very tired, my legs were sore, and I had taken a fall jumping over a fallen tree that left the rest of my body pretty sore as well.

So we stopped after 52 miles, 20 short of the goal. It had taken us 12 hours to get to mile 47 where things went bad and another 2 hours after that to crawl (I mean that literally in Jeff's case) those last 5 miles to get to the point where we finished. Total time was 14 hours. We didn't accomplish the goal but I know we will do it next time. I learned a great deal from the experience, especially about what and how much to eat and drink when going that long.

I’m also now feeling extremely confident for the Glacial Trail 50 in a month. My plan is to take it as easy for the first 25 miles, at the turnaround turn up the intensity just a bit, and then run as hard as I can after Mauthe Lake for the last 20 miles. I finished in 11 hours last year so I'd like to get close to 10 hours this time. We’ll see what happens.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Marquette Trail 50K

This is my first attempt at writing about a race. I never thought I'd remember enough to fill up a blog entry (anything after mile 20 is a blur) but this run was pretty memorable. And I have lots of pictures so when I run out of things to say I'll just post a bunch of those.

The Marquette Trail 50 is a trail ultramarathon in Marquette, MI which is way up on Lake Superior. About 150 runners were registered I think. That's about midsize for an ultra. Jeff and I found it when we decided to look for something a bit further from home this year. We didn't really know what to expect other than it had some small (1400') peaks but assumed it would be a lot like the Ice Age Trail around home. But we were wrong. More on that later.

Jeff and I started the drive up on Thursday night, staying at his cabin in Lakewood, WI that night. We left Friday morning and got to Marquette, MI around Noon. After getting pretty lost on the dirt roads (the directions were hard to follow) we found the location of the start of the race. Now we knew where it was and thank goodness because it was difficult to find. The relay teams were checking in and getting ready to start. We walked around for a bit and then left to eat lunch. After that we checked in to our crappy but cheap hotel.

On the way to the hotel we had been talking about what we should go check out to pass the time Friday afternoon/evening before packet pickup which ended at 8pm. We thought downtown Marquette would be a good idea and had seen a sign for something called Pictured Rocks that we thought we'd check out as well. In downtown Marquette on the water there is a huge structure that looked cool but we had no idea what it was. Here's a couple pictures of it:

We later found out it's an ore dock. Unfortunately you couldn't walk inside the thing, only look at it from shore. They should really set up some kind of tour through it, I bet it would be pretty interesting.

Then we went to check out Pictured Rocks. We assumed it was just a few miles down from the sign we saw but in actuality it was about an hour and a half away. We're glad we didn't know that though because we wouldn't have driven that far had we known and it was worth the drive. It was a really neat place. Here are some pictures:

We left there after a couple hours and went to packet pickup which went smoothly. We were told to come a half hour early in the morning before race start to get our bibs. Normally you get those at packet pickup so we thought this was odd but having directed races ourselves we knew stuff like that happens sometimes. On the way back to the hotel we stopped to get some carbs to slam quick before bed. I ate a loaf of bread and a bag of chips. Jeff ate a granola bar.

Jeff's alarm went off at 4am - way too early when we didn't have to leave until 5:30. My alarm wasn't set to go off until 5:00 and that's when I got up. Grabbed my gear - hydration vest, water bottle, GU gels and GU chomps, bandanna, sunglasses, Garmin - and out the door. Got to the race start no problem, found a parking spot, got our bibs, and went back to the car to get a few more minutes of sleep while Jeff paced around the car like a maniac. He was pretty worried about the race because with being busy at work he hadn't had time to get as much training in as he'd planned. I hadn't gotten in the long runs either that I should have. We had already switched down from the 50 mile to the 50 K. I felt good about things though.

We walked from the car to the starting area to hear last minute instructions from the Race Director (a very nice and funny guy) and listen to the National Anthem. At 6:30 we were off!

The first couple miles were on a dirt then gravel then asphalt road until we got onto some trails to start the "small loop" which consisted of mostly single-track trails with small elevation changes. The "big loop" later would take us up and over the 4 peaks of the Huron mountain range. The "small loop" was very pretty especially when it took us near the river. Here are some pictures:

I started out slow and Jeff started out fast as is typical. I let him get out ahead of me. I felt ok through the 10 mile "small loop" but not great. Stomach was a bit off. Hit an aid station at about mile 5 where I filled my water bottle (I had started with it empty). I took an electrolyte/caffeine capsule at this point followed by a gel about 15 minutes later. My plan was to start with a couple gels before switching to about a chomp every 15 minutes. Gels and chomps are caffeinated and I also was going to take additional salt/caffeine capsules as needed. Since I started drinking several cups of coffee per day a few months ago I really need to take a lot of caffeine to feel it's effects, unfortunately.

Towards the end of the "small loop" there was a little climb over some rocks and there was some talk among the other racers that this must be the part they heard about where you needed your hands free for some climbing. It wasn't. It wasn't even close to what was coming later on in the "big loop". After that little rock climb there was a couple miles of extremely technical trail with constant rocks and roots. There was no way to get into any kind of rhythm and the going was really slow but it was also really fun. Came across the 2nd aid station around mile 10 back at the starting area. Soon the "small loop" ended and it was on to the "big loop".

I caught up with Jeff at this point but he got ahead of me again. I figured I might not see him for awhile so I put in my headphones and just tried to keep moving efficiently but quickly. This next part is kind of a blur but after 5 or 6 miles I got to the aid station at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain and caught up with Jeff again. Here are some pictures from that aid station:

There were stairs up to the top of Sugarloaf. The other peaks didn't have stairs. I'm not sure which I prefer - stairs or scrambling on hand and foot up to the top. The stairs really killed the quads but I tried to grab onto the railing and use my arms as much as possible. It was slow going as everyone was taking it easy. We paused for a bit at the top to take in the views. Sugarloaf is right on Lake Superior so it was really beautiful to look around up there. We went back the next day to take some pictures. I'll put those at the end of this post.

After going back down the backside of Sugarloaf which was some stairs but more trail we ran along Lake Superior for a few miles. This was easy running and had I been feeling better I would have taken advantage of it but I was feeling pretty spent. Jeff got ahead of me again here. It seems the first 20 miles are always the toughest for me. The next aid station after the one at Sugarloaf was kind of far at about 7 miles away which ended up taking me an hour and a half. My water bottle ran out about half way there and I was extremely thirsty at this point. Luckily another runner gave me a drink which got me going again as I was starting to feel pretty bad. Here are some pictures around this time and you can tell neither Jeff or I are feeling real great here:

That last picture I posted because I think that guy is awesome.

Just before the aid station I caught up with Jeff and he was not doing good. He said he was done, he wanted to quit. I told him we just had to get to the aid station and get some water and food in us. We made it there and stopped for about 5 minutes drinking a lot and eating some. I drank water, HEED, cola, chocolate milk and ate some GU chomps and watermelon. After this we felt better but couldn't move very fast after all that hydration so we just plodded along. No one passed us so everyone else (at least behind us) must have been suffering as well.

Soon we got to Bareback Mountain which was right next to Harlow Lake, I believe. This was the first real extended scrambling over bare rock that we did. Now, instead of looking for the orange tape tied to a tree to find your way, you looked for the piles of rocks with some orange tape on it. This was pretty fun and I soon learned that when it doubt just keep moving up until you see the tape again because there was only one way passed the mountain and that was up and over. I got these pictures from another racer's Facebook page so I'm not certain these are from Bareback but they look like it:

I remember very little between Bareback and the next peak (Hogsback). I know Jeff and I stayed together until we got to the next aid station. I got a side ache after that (from drinking too much cola I think) so Jeff got ahead of me here. I didn't see him again until Hogsback. Hogsback was awesome. I'll never forget catching up with Jeff at this point because he was literally clinging to the side of the mountain and he was saying he wanted to quit. I told him he couldn't quit right there because he'd have to be air lifted out. After some prodding I got him going again. I loved Hogsback because my legs got a bit of a break while my other muscles did much of the work as I climbed up and then back down. Jeff hated it because he just wanted the race to be over. Below are some pictures from Hogsback. The first is the beginning of the ascent and it was steeper than that picture looks. The second picture kind of shows you how high it was and how steep it was at the top.

After descending it was just a few more miles to the finish. It was another long trek from the previous aid station to the finish and both Jeff and I ran out of water again a couple miles from the finish. We were really wishing we had brought our Camelbaks instead of relying on a single water bottle. Jeff was moving pretty slowly but I didn't want to go too long without water again so I went on ahead to get water at the finish and bring some back to him if necessary. He was not looking good and I was a little worried about him but I knew he's tough and should be ok. Both of us being stuck out there miles from the finish without water wouldn't be a good situation anyway. I ran what I could of these last couple miles but had to walk when I started to feel really out of it. Then I'd run again for a bit until I felt bad, I kept doing that. At this point I was needing water and calories but I couldn't take any GU without water so I just had to do the zombie shuffle to the finish. I did find some wild raspberries about a half mile from the finish which helped a lot - though mostly psychologically I'm sure.

I reached mile 31.0686 and the finish in 7 hours, 4 minutes, 31 seconds. Not as fast as I had hoped but I really had no idea what to expect. I ran from the finish line to the area where they had all the food setup for the finishers and drank the first thing I found. It was lemonade and it was delicious. I think I drank two bottles full then filled my bottle a third time and went back to the finish to look for Jeff. Just as I got there he appeared around the corner. I was really impressed to see that because he was looking really awful when I left him. He must have really rallied to almost keep up with me those last couple miles and finish just a few minutes behind. Here are the finish line photos:

Jeff finished in 7 hours 8 minutes. We finished 26th and 27th out of 84 (according to the prelminary results).

After Jeff crossed the finish line we drank some more but weren't feeling like eating at the post race celebration dinner so drove back to the hotel. As soon as we got the hotel Jeff puked. Other than my knee being sore I was feeling alright but Jeff was feeling awful. He laid down on his bed and napped for a couple hours while I showered, iced my knee and drank some recovery beers. He got a little better as the night wore on. Some time in the hot tub and pool helped. We ate at a really good BBQ place and then slept very well after that.

The next morning we went back to Sugarloaf Mountain to get some pictures. Here they are:

That's the infamous Hogsback behind me in this picture above.

It was an incredible race and trip. I'll never forget it. I really want to go back for the 50 miler but Jeff has retired again (for the 3rd time). We'll see how long that lasts.

Photo credits (other than myself or Jeff)
Staci K Photography
Kevin Omilusik
Mike Barton