Friday, 06 February 2015 12:13

RR100 Cast Of Characters

RR100 was a tremendously successful race for me, read the race report here, but it never unfolds the way it did without a tremendous amount of support from some key figures. This cast of characters was either on-site or very instrumental in helping me reach the finish line in 19:22 or was there during my training and pushing me to get better as each session passed. There are many people to thank so let's get this cast of characters post (poached from Old Stude) started.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - race - ultra trail

Lead Actress: Pit Crew Chief aka Karen What can I say about Karen that I have not already said? She is the rock to my insanity. PERIOD. For those of you that do not know Karen came into my life as I was getting divorced. It was a hard time in my life as everything seemed to be crashing down all around me, but as Karen is apt to do on a daily basis she puts items and life into perspective. For the past 8 years she has been able to get me to see the forest for the trees and for that I am eternally grateful. On race day Karen's job was to make sure that my crew was ready to go when their time was called but to also make sure that I had everything I needed at the transition area to make sure that I did not spend unnecessary minutes looking for things. Each time I came around to finish a loop she would yell what do you need? Hydration vest fill-up, pancake, shirts, shoes, new watch. It did not matter as she was ready and kept me moving. Karen would send text messages to my pacers on Loops 4 and 5 to find out where I was and how I was doing so she could prepare the transition area for exactly that and nothing more. Of course, after I acted like the Tasmanian Devil in the area she would have to clean it back up and get it squared away for the next loop but she never complained about it.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race

Oh, just a little run through the woods of Huntsville State Park with Jeff[/caption] Lead Actor: Carrot aka Jeff Irvin I 'met' Jeff nearly 6 years ago and we were both getting our feet wet in endurance sports. At the time he was writing a blog as was I and we commented back and forth and from there our friendship took off. Since then I friendship has continued to grow and if it weren't for Jeff I do not think I would be running these long races. Jeff was the person who said: We should run a 100 mile race. I told him he is nuts but I would do the 50 with him. Before I knew it I was signing up for Lake Martin 100 and cursing him ever since but that never stopped me from signing up for RR100 this year or agreeing to race Bandera 100k three weeks prior or come up with ideas of running Coldwater Rumble 100 in January of 2016. We have even discussed running across the Gobi Desert together. Yeah, he ain't right. All of that being said I rely on Jeff for his analytical ability when it comes to gear, especially when it comes to the bike. I am impatient and do not want to review anything so I let him do the research and then just buy whatever he recommends. He got me running in Hokas and come early March I will be riding with power from the Garmin Vector pedals thanks to him. His friendship has been unwavering and invaluable.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - trail - ultra - race - run

A-Train and the misfit triathletes (Carrot, Baha, D-Rog) at IMTX 2013[/caption] Supporting Actress: A-Train aka Annie Annie is Jeff's Leading Actress (wife) and is my second sister. I cannot count the number of times that Annie and I have laughed at all the stupid stuff that her husband gets me into and how I never seem to say no to him at the same time. Simultaneously, Annie has asked me to look after Jeff at the races we do together since he seems to always end up in the Medical Tent or send me text messages when I am not at the race to ask me questions about Jeff. Her ability to laugh at our stupidity while supporting us is amazing and I thank her for allowing me to be a part of these adventures. If you want a glimpse into Annie's mindset about our friendship I will tell you a quick story about the first time we met. Jeff was racing IMTX in 2011 and I volunteered for the race and Jeff decided, without talking to Annie, to offer me his house to stay at in exchange for watching their pugs. When I showed up at their hotel room to get the garage code/key to the house the following conversation took place: Jeff: Hey Annie, can you give Jason the key and garage code to the house. Annie: This makes total sense. I am handing over my house to a guy my husband met on the internet. Jason: Not only that but he is from New York and is Puerto Rican. Jeff: And he has pugs so it is totally fine. To this day we laugh about that conversation and everything that has taken place since then. Supporting Actors:

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race - run

Ninja and I before the start of the IDB Trail Run[/caption] Ninja aka Greg: If you read my race report then you know that Greg is a veteran of the RR100 race having finished it himself 3 years ago and then pacing every year since then. Ninja is one of the first people I ever ran a trail with. I met up with him at Cedar Ridge Preserve along with Sherrif as I was preparing for RR50 and LM100. When we were running you could tell he had an easy time on the trails as if he was born to run on them. Since that time until today I have found him to be one of the nicest people I have had the fortune to cross paths with. When I asked for pacers he was the first to respond that he was in and then took the impetus to ask if we all needed to sit down for dinner to discuss strategy. His confidence was very reassuring in the days leading up to the race and then when we were out on the course. The fact that he was open to a Bro Hug after the race was over was just icing on the cake.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - run - race

 

Gorilla aka Jeff Bennett: This dude is my kind of crazy. There is not a challenge that has been presented to him that he has run away from. A Marine and a Kona qualifier how has ridden bike on the Tour De France course, run the Boston Marathon in a Gorilla suit, canoed for 61 hours straight and won the Burro race multiple times proves that statement to be true. Jeff was the first person I texted when Lake Martin 100 was over as we were heading back to Texas from Alabama. My message to him was: Consider this your first recruitment letter for RR100. Having paced our friend Raul at Leadville 100 and all of his experience in endurance sports plus his good-natured wit I knew I needed him on the team for the 1st part of Loop 5. It was going to get dark mentally at this point and having him draw stories from all his exploits would be the panacea to this mental downturns. It turned out to be true when Korean Charmin became the topic of choice after the Nature Center Aid Station. More on Korean Charmin in the Outtakes Post that is coming out next week.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail race

Sherrif, Old Stude aka John: I met John through the Wade 70%'ers group I started hanging out and training with in preparation for Ironman Arizona. Since that point, I would say that Sherrif has become one of my biggest inspirations and a person I respect immensely. His nickname Old Stude is not unwarranted as the dude is old but he does not let that stop him from getting better at these events. I look up to John as he does not allow anything to get in the way of him reaching his goals. Being tough regardless of circumstance is something I admire in people and Sherrif has that, but he is also the first person to lend a hand, slap you on the back and congratulate you. He is also not somebody who ACTS tough as evidenced by his finish at Ironman Chattanooga and the look of disbelief that came through his tears. John's ability to push himself inspires me to push myself and I cannot thank him enough for that. The Extras: There are so many other people who were involved in the training of this event that this would go on forever but here are a few: Lee who was willing to run the trails with me every chance he got and I appreciate him for joining me on those early weekend runs through the North Shore Trails of Lake Grapevine. Dog Bait - John was not around a lot but that is because he is retired and can go gallivant around but his message just before the race was beyond supportive and I replayed it over in my mind as the race went on.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race

Drum - Michelle is a fierce of a competitor as you will find but would not know it because there is always a smile on her face.  Through Strava and text messages she sent enormous amounts of support and confidence building encouragement.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - run

Goat - Jeff has never met a stranger and is always prepared with a positive word(s) to help you through anything.  His ability to tell me that I am crazy but say it in a good way gave me one good laugh after another not to mention the Peanut M&Ms as fuel before Loop 5.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - run - race

 

Train Wreck - Marc travels a long ways to come and hang out with our group for training rides and races.  He is willing to help anybody out and when I finally went to run with him in his neck of the woods he returned that by buying me breakfast.  Just the kind of guy that he is.

]rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race - run 

 

The RR100 Cast of Characters That Helped Me Reach 19:22

Thank You.

   

Published in Race

Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile Trail run has been 11 weeks in the making and over the course of the run nothing, and I mean nothing, fell short of expectations.  I am going to go over the events of the race in this report but over the course of the next few days I will layout the stories that took place on the course as our interactions with other athletes and volunteers unfolded.  In addition to that report, I am going to provide some insight into what Jeff and I have to look forward to when we race the Lake Martin 100 at the end of March.  Lastly, there will be a nutrition blog post coming up on No Meat Athlete in regards to what I ate before, during and after the race. Friday, February 8th With nothing to do on Friday but to pick up our packets and get a 4 mile run in Jeff and I woke up late and went and had a rather large breakfast, as is my normal routine.  After breakfast we went back to Jeff's house and got ready to run 4 miles.  As we headed out we ran into my wife (Karen) who was out there running 15 miles as she prepares for the Cowtown Marathon in a couple of weeks. After the run we met up with Jeff's wife (Annie) for lunch and then headed to the course for packet pick-up and athlete meeting.  At this meeting we ran into Lee and John who were participating along with Byron who is the sherpa-friend extraordinaire.  It was during the athlete briefing  that I believe I fell in love with Ultra Trail runs.  Liza (helping the RD's) gave us the rules and regulations of the race.  Typical stuff of do not litter and stay on course, but the best part:

DO NOT POOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TRAIL

Right then and there I knew I would love the race and the ultra trail run community. Once the meeting was over we headed back to Jeff's for pizza and bed time.  Bed time was right around 8:30p as we had to wake up at 2:30a to get packed and head to the race.

Saturday, January 8th. Rocky Raccoon 50 Ultra Trail Race Day.

2:30am comes early.  Too Early.  Luckily we had prepared the majority of our needs the night before and it was just a matter of getting our gear into the car and then making breakfast to take with us and coffee to go.  There was not much talk about the race on the way up but lots of jokes and laughter going on, which would be a foreshadow of the day to come. We got to the park around 4:15am figuring we would see a line of cars entering but there were none.  We drove right up to the booth and asked the woman allowing us access if there were a ton of cars earlier and she said "No.  Maybe 6 0r 7."  Immediately we thought we could have gotten another hour's worth of sleep but we were here and were able to get a great parking spot right near the bathroom.  After eating our breakfast it was time for me to take a nap.  I set my alarm for 5:30am and closed my eyes.  5:30am comes faster than 2:30am but I was ready. We grabbed our drop bags and walked to the start line.  Found our bag spots and then went into the tent to try to get warm.  It was mid-30s and it felt colder.  I had on 4 layers of tops, a pair of compression shorts, compression socks, Hoka Stinson, two pairs of gloves and a wool hat.  When Liza told us to get headed toward the start line that is what we did.  Our strategy was:  run steady.  We knew we would have to walk eventually but staying as steady as possible was our goal. Loop #1: The clock struck 6:00am and we were off.  Headlamps and flashlights everywhere.  Foot steps abound and the start of my first 50 miler was upon me. Jeff and I were running in single file with all the others and we were telling jokes and laughing and getting people into the spirt.  This was going to be a long day so may as well make the best of it.  When you are running in the dark you cannot tell if you are going uphill, downhill or flat.  You are just running.  About an hour into the run the light starts to break through the trees and you can now tell where you are at and begin to put your strategy in place. Our strategy was rather simple:

  • Walk the uphills, run the flat, cascade downhill and watch your footing.
  • Stop at every aid station to get whatever looked good.  Drink water at the very least.
  • Drink from our hydration packs at every mile.
  • Laugh, tell jokes and engage other runners in conversation as much as possible.

We hooked up with Marc around daylight and he instantly joined in the joking.  We were laughing so hard and just making fun of life while clicking off the miles.  Marc, in hindsight was smart, would walk more than us then run and catch up.  He held a steady pace with us and allowed us to forget where we were in terms of miles as we kept moving and joking and laughing.  After a bit more we latched onto Fabrizio who is South American (from Brazil and living in Houston) who was also doing his first 50 miler. This group of 4 was great to run with as we all had different backgrounds and stories.   After a while Fabrizio dropped off and we picked up Gayle who was the true definition of steady.  We 'allowed' Gayle to pull our little train for quite a bit until we entered the aid station and after that I took over pulling.  After 2:40 we were done with Loop #1.  Quick change of baseball hat on and wool cap off then  go.  Time for Loop #2 Loop #2: When you start the second loop you realize the areas where you should have slowed down or walked a bit more.  You also realize how many roots are on the trail.  I was amazed that we got through this section without falling down on our faces.  Jeff and I talked and decided that once the uphills caused strain on either of us we would walk and then reach the flat and go.  During loop #2 you pass the marathon distance and we decided to GoPro us going past this 'magical' distance marker.  I looked at my watch and saw 4:17…..not bad for a road marathon let alone a trail marathon.  Maybe a bit too hard. Gayle was with us and trudging along and when we hit Mile 28 Jeff and Gayle congratulated me for passing my longest distance run.  A PR set in the middle of a race doesn't happen often but it did at RR50.  A few more miles later and we passed the 6 hour mark and I thought to myself:  This is way harder than an Ironman but I kept it to myself as I did not want any bad mojo being released into the air. It was toward the end of this loop that we came across an aid station and they had KING CAKE.  Are you kidding me?  I did a double take and stared hard but chose to keep to my one oreo and two cups of water routing going at this point as I did not want to add anything to my stomach that I wasn't sure I could handle.  I was doing body checks and made note that my feet were feeling good, legs were tired and beat up but not impossible to keep moving and my HR was staying in the high Z1 or low Z2 range.  If my HR crept up too much going uphill I would tell Jeff and we would start to walk. Coming back into loop 2 finish was a tremendous feeling.  We did loop #1 in 2:40 and loop #2 in 2:52 with more walking.  We were feeling good about our progress but it was time to lock down and move.  In the drop bag area we added our liquid nutrition to our vests and grabbed a few bites to eat then it was back out for the next and final loop. Loop #3 Immediately I knew this was going to be hard as my feet entered shuffle mode.  I am not sure if you could have slid paper under my feet at this point but I was happy that they kept moving forward.  We stuck to our strategy and while we kept moving you could tell that our paces had slowed going up the hills and going down the hills was a much more gingerly activity. Marc caught up with us again and it was awesome to have him with us laughing.  Approximately 1/2 way through Marc took off and told us we would see him again further up but the next time we saw him he was waiting for us at the finish line.  Such a great and classy move.  Once Marc took off we came up on the one area that we knew had a huge puddle and there was not an easy way around it.  The first two loops I stepped easy so as not to get my socks and feet wet.  This time around with legs not responding as quickly as they were earlier I stomped, like a person killing a roach in a dark apartment, into the mud and got my feet wet and mud up my socks.  I did not care and just wanted to get out of this. Further through the trail, which was in terrific shape, considering hundreds of athletes did 4 loops on the course the week before for the Rocky Raccoon 100 and a few more hundred were going through the course again for the 50,  Jeff and I knew that the mud hill would slow us down and potentially keep us from going under 9 hours.  What we did not expect was me smashing my foot onto one of the rocks and sending a jolt up my IT Band that never loosened up.  Now, it was Jeff's turn to pull and at this point a couple of things happened that I will never forget:

  • Jeff telling me that we had come this far together and that I had done so much to get him to this point that he wasn't leaving my side.
  • Jeff saying that going through this shit was what made friends for life.

Hearing those two statements was a real pick me up and allowed me to block out the pain I was feeling in my leg.  We were calculating times to reach the finish line in 9 hours and we would both say that we did not care because of the lessons we were learning for LM100 but inside I wanted under 9 hours and I know Jeff did too.  My original thought was that we would finish between 8:30 and 8:45 and I wanted to be as close to that as possible.  With about 1.5 miles to go Jeff said that if we run up that hill and bust ass all the way in we would get in under 9 hours and with that we took off.  I did not give it a second thought.  I did not care how much pain I was in.  I wanted under 9 hours.  .25 miles into this all out run we saw Byron who took our pictures and gave us the push we needed and our paces picked up to the point of 7:00/mi.  We were hauling ass. Coming down the final stretch and hearing our wives, the spectators and volunteers cheering and there wasn't a single sore muscle other than my face from smiling so much.  I looked at Jeff and said:  We did this shit man.  It was the best feeling ever.  Greater than crossing the finish line of my first Ironman because it was that much harder.  As we crossed I saw 8:53:xx and then thought: THAT LIAR!  Either way crossing when we did was a testament to our plan for clothing, nutrition, run/walk, hydration and the hours and miles of work we put in leading up to that point.

Rocky Raccoon 50 Ultra Trail Run Conclusion

There is no way around the fact that you have to do work, both in the months leading up to the race and during the race.  While the runs prior will help build the physical aspect it is the mental part that is tough to mimic.  Most people will not have gone past a 50k (31 miles) during training and it is at that point where it becomes the great unknown.  How will my body react?  How about my mind?  How much should I continue to eat and drink?  How do I feel?  There are so many questions that you may not be prepared for if you did not put together a strategy leading into the race or execute during the race. Doing a 50 mile ultra trail run is so challenging but the accomplishment is even greater.  The Rocky Raccoon 50 is a great way to get into this sport.  I found everybody to be extremely helpful.  I witnessed a tremendous amount of support for myself and Jeff but for other athletes out on the course as well.  It was tremendous to see people lift each other up and help when needed. Thank you to the race directors, volunteers and spectators for allowing me to share this spacial day with you.  This was my first but will not be my last ultra trail run. [flagallery gid=26]

Published in Race Reports
IMTN or Ironman Chattanooga challenge has entered week 14 which means that lucky week 13 has passed.  The week brought about separate challenges for KC and I and that proves that no one training cycle is ever going to be perfect.  It also goes to show you that you cannot compare yourself to anybody else while training for an Ironman because while the paths may meet on race day they certainly take their own turns and twists on the way there.  Week 13 In Review.

KC's Lucky Week 13 Challenges And Solutions

[caption id="attachment_9395" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Tackle The Challenge Head On.....Then end the week with a 100 mile bike ride![/caption] This week was interesting in that I had to play a smart time management game. Work is notoriously crazy the first 3-4 months of the year, then it stays busy but settles down with a few ebbs and flows throughout the rest of the year. Anyway ...what I'm trying to say is that there are no excuses. If you  want something bad enough, you will make the time to get it done, no matter what. Needless to say, I worked 6 days this week and about 11 hours of overtime, yet, I still managed to get all of my training in and then some. I snuck an extra day of Xfit in (yay me!). It's pretty simple, I make sure I have several sets of workout clothing with me, toiletries, extra food, and I'm good to go. Thankfully, we have an AWESOME gym set up at work, so I can go down whenever and get an awesome workout in, shower, then get back to work.
I'm still going strong on the century streak. I did my 5th century today, so that is 5 for 5 ...hell yeah!
Other than that, still tame on the training front. Next week looks much the same. I can't believe I'm saying this but I sure do miss swimming! BUT, I have to stay clear of any infection causing bodies of water for another 3 weeks ...meh! I'm ready to hit the pool that's for sure.
That's all I got for ya ...
Upward and Onward!

Jason's Week 13 Challenge And Solutions

Many of you know that I am racing the Rocky Raccoon 50 Ultra trail run this coming Saturday and that means that I have been in taper mode since last Sunday.  While there are runs on the schedule they are not long, at least not long in comparison to the overload weeks where 70+ mile weeks were the norm. Taper usually brings with it the crazy feeling that I have not done enough.  I call it crazy because if you have been following a well-thought out plan and did the work then you have done enough.  Period.  This time I decided to take taper very seriously and not do anything but taper.  I had 5 runs schedule for the week and I did 5 runs.  I did not go to the pool.  I did not get on the bike.  I ate wisely and did what I needed to do to bring a spring back to my legs and it was there when I went and did a 10 mile race. [caption id="attachment_9393" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Fort Worth Running Company Chocolate Chip 10 Miler Data Points[/caption] This 10 miler was not going to be a race where I take off and hope to hang on.  As a matter of fact it was a race to get the 10 miles in without being bored by myself.  As the gun went off and we were cruising at a very manageable pace I decided that my legs felt good enough that I should negative split the entire race.  Add in the fact that it was cold out and finishing as quickly as possible certainly enough of a reason.  At the turn around point I dropped a gear and ran faster with each passing mile and my legs felt springy.  They had life in them and I knew right then and there that the taper, as hard as it was to not swim and bike, was working.  I finished 11th overall.  Part of me says:  Had I run hard out of the gate I could have finished Top 5, but this was not an important race as much as it was an important brick in the ultra trail run wall. This upcoming week is more of the same.  Lots of do nothing.  Lots of pay attention to sleep.  Lots of pay attention to food intake.  Lots of mental prep.  The taper challenge will continue but the light at the end of the tunnel is right there and come Saturday when the gun goes off all of it will have been well worth it.  Oh, and check out the forecast for Saturday.  Running in the woods in the mud.....just like being a kid.   [caption id="attachment_9391" align="aligncenter" width="200"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Rain = Mud. Mud = Fun. Let's Do This![/caption]
Published in Train